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Working Paper Number 95 Why Congo Persists: Sovereignty, Globalization and the Violent Reproduction of a Weak State Pierre Englebert*
[Paper written for the Queen Elizabeth House Carnegie Project on “Global Cultural and Economic Dimensions of Self- Determination in Developing Countries.”]

Wherever one looks, many elements conspire to suggest that the Democratic Republic of Congo should have collapsed some time ago under the multiple assaults of its own inadequacies as a state, the extreme heterogeneity and polarization of its populations, and the dislocations of globalization and foreign occupation. Yet, Congo has gone on defying such expectations and has continued to display a stunning propensity for resilience. This paper tries to explain why Congo persists amid these overwhelming structural obstacles. It focuses particularly on the more recent period when state weakness, foreign invasions, the exploitation of its natural resources by transnational and informal networks, and the multiplicity of domestic rebellions linked to foreign interests have not managed to dent, however slightly, the generalized support that exists for the reproduction of the Congolese state among its elites and regular citizens, foreign political and economic interests, and the international community at large. Observing that, in many parts of Congo, local grievances against the state and the greed of political elites have been magnified by the circumstances of post-Cold War Africa, it takes as paradoxical the continued broadly unchallenged existence of Congo

February 2003

* Pierre Englebert Pomona College Department of Politics Claremont, CA 91711 Email:

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Why Congo Persists: Globalization, Sovereignty and the Violent Reproduction of a Weak State1
1. A Multifaceted Paradox Wherever one looks, many elements conspire to suggest that the Democratic Republic of Congo should have collapsed some time ago under the multiple assaults of its own inadequacies as a state, the extreme heterogeneity and polarization of its populations, and the dislocations of globalization and foreign occupation. Yet, Congo has gone on defying such expectations and has continued to display a stunning propensity for resilience. This paper tries to explain why Congo persists amid these overwhelming structural obstacles. It focuses particularly on the more recent period when state weakness, foreign invasions, the exploitation of its natural resources by transnational and informal networks, and the multiplicity of domestic rebellions linked to foreign interests have not managed to dent, however slightly, the generalized support that exists for the reproduction of the Congolese state among its elites and regular citizens, foreign political and economic interests, and the international community at large. Observing that, in many parts of Congo, local grievances against the state and the greed of political elites have been magnified by the circumstances of post-Cold War Africa, it takes as paradoxical the continued broadly unchallenged existence of Congo. 2 Precious little is indeed redeeming about the state in Congo. Created as the institutional façade of a foreign enterprise of exploitation of ivory and rubber, it reproduced as the instrument of an extractive colonization system, in turns violent and paternalistic. Once independent, it provided the stage and the reason for five years of sheer chaos combining mutinies, secessions, rebellions, coups and a botched UN intervention, then to 32 years of stifling arbitrary rule, predation and eventual economic ruin. “Liberation” from the Mobutu regime only compounded the existing arbitrariness and poverty with renewed armed conflict, the collapse of the central administrative apparatus and the marginalization of civil society. Meanwhile, the Congolese have never had a chance to freely choose their leaders or political system. The catastrophic failure of the Congolese state as an instrument of collective action is further compounded by the vast heterogeneity of its people and their intense and frequently violent polarization along regional, ethnic and parochial lines. By one count, Congo has fourteen pre-colonial cultural identity zones and no less than 365


Although my argument significantly departs from theirs, the title of this chapter refers to the classic paper of Robert H. Jackson and Carl G. Rosberg. “Why Africa’s Weak States Persist: The Empirical and the Juridical in Statehood, World Politics, 35(1), October 1982, 1-24. I owe much gratitude to many people who have facilitated my work on this project. I am aware, however, that some of the arguments in this paper could be construed as provocative and even offensive by some in Congo, although this never was my intention and I would regret it. While none of the individuals who have helped me bears any responsibility for the substance of my work---and some may well be in complete disagreement with it---, I have chosen to refrain from nominally thanking those who have helped me in Congo. They know who they are, and may they know how truly grateful I am for all they have done for me. Outside Congo, my thanks first go to Rebecca Hummel and Stacy Tarango for their superb research and editorial assistance, and to Morten Boas, Paule Bouvier, Mauro de Lorenzo, Kate Farnsworth, Jan Gorus, Raufu Mustapha, William Reno, Alice Sindzingre, Richard Sklar, Theodore Trefon, Denis Tull, Herbert Weiss, and the members of the Working Group on African Political Economy. 2 See the chapter by Frances Stewart in this book for a discussion of the possible impacts of globalization on group grievances and private profiteering.

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ethnic groups. 3 Some are fiercely antagonistic like the Lunda and Balubakat of Katanga, the Lulua and Luba of Kasai, the Hema and Lendu of the Oriental Province, or the Banyarwanda and most other groups from Kivu. Overlapping and cross-cutting ethnicity, the Congolese have also developed strong provincial identities. Katangans and Kasaians have long-lasting grievances vis-à-vis each other and the state. Both regions seceded in the 1960s and both experimented with autonomous policies in the early 1990s. The Kivu provinces are also intensely particularistic. Furthermore, in each province, the Congolese tend to make a strong distinction between “autochthonous” and “non-autochthonous” populations based on the alleged precedence of their settlement there. Finally, the geographical distribution of Congolese populations concentrates around boundary zones, making Congo akin to a periphery with no core. 4 Compounding these pre-existing structural weaknesses, Congo’s territorial and economic integrity has come under the repeated assaults of foreign invasions and the informalization of international trade and investment networks over the last decade. Twice since 1996, Rwanda and Uganda have invaded Congo and set up or encouraged localized rebellions against the state. At least in the case of Rwanda, there were each time substantial (though not unamibiguous) cultural and ethnic connections between the Congolese rebels and their foreign patrons, spreading fears that irredentist claims would eventually prevail in the Kivu regions. 5 Before 1996 already, the Kivu regions had begun dissociating from the state. In the early 1990s, Denis Tull writes, the Kivus were drifting away, "culturally and economically as much part of East Africa," and were witnessing the "emergence of vibrant border-crossing informal economic networks."6 Nowadays, “nearly all consumer items available in eastern Congo come from Rwanda and especially Uganda” and there is “widespread circulation of Ugandan and Rwandan currency along Congo's eastern borders."7 The Congolese Franc’s exchange rate differs also between Kinshasa and the east, where post-1998 banknotes are not in circulation, reducing monetary supply and appreciating the franc. The telephone switchboard for Kisangani is Somalia's. In Goma, one has to dial Rwanda, and cell phones from Kinshasa have to be replaced with Rwandacel receivers. Cars with right-hand steering wheels, imported from the Middle East via Uganda are very common in the Kivus. Angola, Namibia and Zimbabwe have also occupied large segments of the country since 1998, albeit formally on behalf of the Kinshasa government. Nevertheless, Zimbabwe at least has attempted to reorient the economies of the Kasai and Katanga provinces, which it controlled, in favor of Zimbabwean interests and

Isidore Ndaywel è Nziem. Histoire générale du Congo: De l’héritage ancien à la République Démocratique. Paris: Duculot, 1998, 256-7. 4 See Jeffrey Herbst. States and Power in Africa: Comparative Lessons in Authority and Control. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2000, 148. 5 For an example of such accusations, see the interview of former US Assistant-Secretary of State Herman Cohen, who now lobbies for the Kinshasa government, to the Congolese periodical Congopolis in which he stated “I believe that one of the politico-strategic objectives of Kigali has been and continues to be the dismemberment of Congo. The principal objective is to create an indepdent state of Kivu which would be governed by substitutes of Kigali and which would become an engine of Rwanda’s economic development” (, 21 October 2002). 6 Denis Tull. 2001. “The Dynamics …”, 2. 7 Denis Tull. 2001. “The Dynamics …” . There is no truth, however, to the occasionally heard claims that Rwanda has imposed its own currency in the Kivus. Rather, it allowed trading in Rwandan francs as a reulst of the currency cruch brought about by speculators hoarding Congolese francs in the hope of arbitrage opportunities if the country were to reunite.

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towards Southern African markets in general. 8 This has compounded an already developing reorientation of Kasaian and Katangan economic activities away from Kinshasa and towards Southern Africa. According to Michael Nest, for example, Kasai became dependent upon Katanga for its trade and Katanga became “overwhelmingly reliant on transport networks from the south” in the 1990s. 9 Simultaneously, and not unrelated, the diminished control of the state over its resources and borders has favored the informalization, criminalization, and internationalization of the exploitation of Congo’s massive natural wealth, mainly composed of diamonds, gold, copper, cobalt, uranium, timber and coltan. In other words, Congo has been penetrated by global networks that operate by and large in the margins of the law and bypass existing state structures. 10 The failures of the Congolese state, the acute polarization of its society and the poundings of globalization make Congo a prime candidate for violent dislocation and reconfiguration at the hands of “self-determination movements,” whether driven by communal grievances or individual profit motivations. 11 After all, if the Southern Sudanese have fought for decades to escape the exploitative domination of their state, why wouldn’t the Katangans? If ethnically homogeneous Somalia has broken down, why wouldn’t the more numerous pieces of the Congolese puzzle come undone? And if transnational identities and economic flows have facilitated movements against the state in Sri Lanka, Indonesia or Algeria, why would they not yield similar results in Congo? Many observers had indeed predicted the breakdown of Congo as Mobutu’s regime crumbled in 1996, based partly on the relatively lively separatist traditions of Katanga, the Kasais and the Kivus. It was not unreasonable to expect then as now that the simmering contradictions of the Congolese state, which had been kept under lid by the perceived imperatives of the Cold War, would finally boil over as international norms of sovereignty came under attack, and as new material conditio ns began to undermine principles of territoriality. 12 And yet, Congo endures. For sure, the Congolese state has been under duress for several years, but it has also been virtually free of any “self-determination” challenge since the collapse of the Mobutu regime in 1996, in the sense of rebellion movements claiming either to break away from the state or to fundamentally change its nature. Nor have occupying forces, Rwanda included, attempted to dismember it. On the contrary, all countries at war in Congo formally proclaimed their attachment to its territorial integrity in the Lusaka Cease Fire Agreement of 1999 and on several other occasions. Foreign companies have by and large stayed away from the rebels, preferring to work with the government in Kinshasa. And Western governments and international organizations have continued to prop up the state, diplomatically and

For the role of Zimbabwean military-based trade networks in Congo, see Global Witness. Branching Out: Zimbabwe’s Resource Colonialismin Democratic Republic of Congo. London: Global Witness, February 2002, and Final Report of the Panel of Experts on the Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources and Other Forms of Wealth of the Democratic Republic of Congo. New York: United Nations Security Council, S/2002/1146, 16 October 2002. 9 Michael Nest. 2001. "Ambitions, Profits and Loss: Zimbabwean Economic Involvement in the Democratic Republic of Congo." African Affairs 100:479. 10 See the UN’s Final Report…, op.cit., and the transcripts of the ongoing Great Lakes Commission of Enquiry of the Senate of Belgium ( See also IPIS “Supporting the War Economy in the DRC : European Companies and the Coltan Trade. Five Case Studies,” January 2002. 11 See Michael L. Ross. “Oil, Drugs and Diamonds: How Do Natural Resources Vary in their Impact on Vicil War?”, unpublished manuscript; and Richard Snyder. “Does Lootable Wealth Breed Disorder? States, Regimes and the Political Economy of Extraction”, unpublished manuscript. 12 On the systematic rescuing of the Congolese/Zairean state by its Western partners during the Cold War, see Michael G. Schatzberg. Mobutu or Chaos? ….

however. 17 November 1998 opinion poll. Lubumbashi. 14 Colette Braekman interview with Joseph Kabila. 16 Bureau d’Etudes et de Recherches Consulting International. well ahead of democratic elections (2%). Kisangani. they stated: “The first thing is unity of the country. for example. civil society. It would not serve the interests of the population.61. Paradoxically. cited in Bureau d’Etudes et de Recherches Consulting International. but one and unitary. whether among government supporters.] we are also Congolese. 19 Personal anonymous interview with me mbers of civic -oriented NGOs. Not only does Congo endure against all odds.”19 In notoriously secessionist Katanga. of conveying the puzzling intensity with which the Congolese affirm their national pride. 2 May 2002. leaders of non-armed political parties and of the self-proclaimed civil society. November 2001. L’an I de Joseph Kabila au pouvoir: l’Etat de gouvernance sous Kabila II. respondents to a December 2001 opinion poll in Kinshasa most commonly cited peace and the reunification of the country (42%). discouraging alternative institutional solutions (in contrast to their policies in the wake of the failure of the Soviet or Yugoslav systems in the 1990s).” M i meo document. In Kisangani. 18 Personal interview with women members of civil society organizations. who deems to be his father’s political heir.”15 These aspirations for national unity are not only a feature of the political class. 20 Personal interview with André Tshombé. rebels or other opposition groups. one sees a nearly unanimous profession of loyalty to decrepit Congo. Balkanization is a diabolic plan because the desire of the Congolese people to stay together is unquestionable. where one would expect to observe the formation or the rise to salience of alternative identities. had declared their desire to see a future Congo “decentralized. Le Soir. Kisangani. the son of the late president of Katanga. André Tshombé. the three factional leaders responsible for the partition of the country all “reaffirmed their will to see [Congo] recover its unity. academia. just the interests of foreign powers. a human rights activist declared “the Congolese do not want to see their country balkanized. On the contrary. 89% had declared being against the partition of the country. L’An I …. but the Congolese even profess a remarkable fervor in their attachment to the state. 15 “Procès Verbal…. We used to be one.”13 A few months later.”14 Back in January 2002. p. explaining his (later recused) agreement to set up a transitional government with Bemba as Prime Minister. one encounters a remarkable uniformity of views on this question. Les leçons à tirer de la conférence nationale souveraine et ses implications pour le dialogue intercongolais Kinshasa: BERCI. That is the first thing we want. Kinshasa: BERCI. At a January 2002 meeting of Congolese president Joseph Kabila and rebel leaders Jean-Pierre Bemba (Mouvement de Libération du Congo) and Adolphe Onusumba (Rassemblement Congolais pour la Démocratie-Goma). November 2001. Moïse Tshombé. p. April 2002. June 2001. rebel groups or traditional institutions. Asked about their expectations for 2002. In numerous interviews with Congolese in the state apparatus. . convening at a round-table of their own in Brussels in preparation for the “Inter-Congolese Dialogue” scheduled for the following month.” 18 In the same town.QEH Working Paper Series – QEHWPS95 Page 5 financially. delegates of women’s organizations did not identify their number one priority as feeding their children or living in peace.”20 And a popular shirt in Kinshasa in 2001 read “the territorial 13 Bureau d’Etudes et de Recherches Consulting International. stated “there is diversity here but […. 16 A few years earlier. 60. 17 These statements from politicians and evidence from opinion polls fall well short. 14 January 2002. An average of about 70% of them also declared fearing the country’s partition in the course of four surveys in 2001. Kabila declared “we have been able to get along on a [shared] nationalistic [and] patriotic basis that takes account of the superior interests of the nation. in November 1998.

the risks of which they remain adverse to. Forces of globalization that are expected to dilute the state and promote the politicization of alternative identities. political and cultural influences of the last decade. and the result of foreign—and often US— based machinations to prevent Congo from rising to its natural grandeur. warlords or secessionist movements. First. the international recognition of Congo’s sovereignty as a state is a crucial mechanism which guarantees its reproduction and is also a resource in itself. such as debt servicing. 21 “L'intégrité territoriale de la RDC n'est pas négociable. For the Congolese elites. such as insurance opportunities. which paradoxically contributes to its resilience. While its very weaknesses offer numerous opportunities for rents. 2. Western powers and international organizations also prefer to replicate the structure of Congolese statehood rather than to facilitate alternative scenarios. one must first apprehend its very nature and the manner in which it functions. violent rebellions revolve around the terms of the rebels’ integration in the state rather than over the nature of the state itself. Second.”21 The Congolese never talk of territorial adjustments. rather than in defiance of the state itself. The paper ends with a discussion of why Congo may differ from other countries in this respect. All of them fear the unknown and the setting of a precedent in revising colonial boundaries.QEH Working Paper Series – QEHWPS95 Page 6 integrity of the DRC is not up for negotiation. This paper offers a theory of the reproduction of the weak Congolese state in the era of globalization. because it offers a structure of predictability that is not associated with guerillas. its continued sovereignty offers them relative guarantees. the incentives of the Congolese and of foreign states and companies collude to keep Congo as Congo. Grass-root Congolese prefer therefore to voice their local cultural identities in competition with each other for access to local resources. Foreign companies also find benefits in continuing to deal with the weak state. It argues that. which allows for the transformation of the weak state into an economic resource and dwarfs the potential returns of alternative agendas of self-determination. far from abating with the end of the cold war and the weakening of Congo’s empirical statehood. Maintaining Congo also guarantees the continuation of its international obligations to the West. Congo’s international sovereignty has been preserved if not reinforced by the Congolese and foreign actors alike. Because of several benefits associated with the international recognition of Congo’s sovereignty. partition or reconfigurations. in the end. value the continued existence of the state despite its abuses. such as the cultural influences of diasporas or the informalization and occasional criminalization of networks of resource exploitation do not. political elites choose to pursue their profiteering strategies in the context of Congo itself. Two elements stand out. Finally. measure up to the incentives of sovereign reproduction in the Congolese context. Far from favoring the dilution of the state in their eyes. state sovereignty is a paramount force. Populations at large. but always use words such as balkanization or dismemberment (“dépeçage”) and almost universally see any idea of territorial change as evil. As a result. As a result. on the other hand. The Weak Sovereign State as a Resource In order to understand the ways in which the Congolese state has adjusted to the global economic. not available in deals with non-sovereign entities. globalization offers them uncertain and dangerous alternatives. conspiratorial.” . the very weakness of the state is a resource to many Congolese.

May 23-26:5-6. See their Africa Works: The Instrumentalization of Disorder. together with the image of the nationalist hero and the Lumumbist mystique. Laurent-Désiré Kabila. 23 This is particularly true at the apex of the state. His COMIEX company entered several commercial deals under the umbrella of the state after his takeover in 1997. “A Reconfiguration of Political Order? The State of the State in North Kivu (DR Congo). The Benefits of the Weak State Although it may appear at first as merely dysfunctional. This follows the logic of “salarization” of society by the state which lies at the core of the African post-colonial social contract. people continue to report to work in the hope of receiving their wages or in order to preserve their claim to hypothetical future payments of their wages. He treated Congo as one giant resource available for plunder to those in positions of state power. was a prototypical case of translation of economic interests into a strategy of conquest and reproduction of the state under the veil of a discourse of national liberation. 25 Rebel leaders too find an interest in keeping the state machinery alive in the regions under their control. On the Postcolony. No 42. International Biennial Conference of the African Studies Association in Germany (VAD). 26 22 23 Achille Mbembe. whether in government-controlled or in rebel territory. Kabila used such a discourse. They do so because they wish to preserve the state as an instrument of patronage. for example. while others. their employees and citizens in general because they derive private benefits from them irrespective of these institutions’ capacity to perform their initial public functions. 14-20 October 2002 [www. supporting rumors that he participated in diamond trafficking.1. Thus. 22 But there is more to the persistence of the state than the expectation of direct payments. a businessman for whom taking over the state was the most remarkable economic opportunity of his lifetime. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. for example. not directly associated with the Africa Research Bulletin: Economic. the weak Congolese state actually benefits numerous segments of its population. Berkeley. Hamburg. 2002. as part of his strategy to take over the Mobutuist state and profit from it. Ministries. 2001. diamonds were found in his office. SeptemberOctober 2001. provincial administrations and other bureaucratic appendages of the state are maintained by state elites.obsac. state agencies. however limited. Kabila was an entrepreneur.html]. CA: University of California Press. 1998. The killing by security forces of 11 Lebanese diamond traders in the wake of the president’s assassination also militate for the thesis that Kabila’s physical elimination had more to do with a business vendetta than a political coup. This argument parallels Patrick Chabal and Jean-Pascal Daloz’s idea of “instrumentalization” of dysfunctionality in Africa. in January 2001. 24 See. a crucial resource to build support for their quest for power. 26 Denis Tull. people with parcels of state authority. . The capacity to use the weak state as an instrument of predation is the most crucial element of the logic of its survival and reproduction.QEH Working Paper Series – QEHWPS95 Page 7 2. 25 See Observatoire de l’Afrique Centrale. 14928.” Paper presented at the XVIII. 24 At the time of his death. unpaid civil servants start their day by going to work “pour rester matriculés. Volume 5. At the most direct level. can market them and extract resources from their fellow citizens. At many levels of society. can also benefit from these practices. Financial and Technical Series.” before heading off to their field or to other survival economic activity.

. starting with Kabila’s fellow Balubakat in Katanga. one encounters numerous stretches of deeply deteriorated roads. it is not uncommon to come across virtual roadblocks of local youth. however. at many levels of society. Rebel leaders do not operate in a vacuum either.mining company. 29 Ibid. charge parties for favorable judgments. irrespective of its current lack of substance. 27 The government receives revenue from its participation in them. far from repairing or providing maintenance work on the road.000 tons in the late 1980s to about 20. taxes them and imposes miscellaneous additional fees. and for the state to remain unaffected by its de facto privatization in the hands of political elites.QEH Working Paper Series – QEHWPS95 Page 8 Yet. Gécamines. physical expressions of state decay. people can derive private benefits from the continuation of Congo’s weak state institutions. In the state’s ghostly universities. Yet. which shields them from academic competition.28 If it were to be privatized. guaranteeing over the long run that the road remains in bad repair. but its managers. April 2002. their desire to maintain the state is widely supported. This is because. its production may well resume more substantially. There are currently about 23 such joint ventures. and clerks sell on-demand modified versions of judgments and official acts.000 employees. Judges. These “corrupt” judges and clerks depend on the continuation of state weakness for their income. the Congolese can legally market its assets. The moribund state-owned copper and cobalt. armed with shovels. also represents a substantial resource to state agents and its 24. they symbolically throw a shovel of dirt into the hole as the car approaches. When driving between Congolese cities. In fact. Many people. employees and the state itself would lose control of such deals. from which its management and local elites accrue substantial income. although Gécamines itself has not paid dividends since 1996. Kabila’s corporate presidency was not the strategy of one man or an isolated state elite against a dispossessed population or a voiceless civil society. which the students willingly pay in exchange for a state-sanctioned [accessed 3 May 2002] Anonymous interview with Gécamines executive manager. their need for official documents as evidence of judgments preserves the demand for these state-sanctioned official legal services. Durably fixing the road would deprive these local youth of the immediate source of revenue 27 28 Digitalcongo. and the patrimonial uses of state institutions by the rebel leaders are not either specific to them. The current position of its administrators with respect to privatization---that management be privatized but that assets remain under its ownership---reflects this desire to use Gécamines as an instrument for business deals. Professors also benefit from the absence of new appointments and promotions due to the university’s fiscal crisis. Although the parties to a case may prima facie be perceived as victims of the system’s corruption. professors privately charge fees. as do the lawyers who probably collect additional fees for their out-of-court settlements and private arbitrations. as happens with other dimensions of Congo’s decayed but enduring statehood. At the location of significant potholes or some other major obstacle. As long as Gécamines remains a parastatal company. for example.000 tons now. Irrespective of their popularity. Lubumbashi. and demanding payment for their “maintenance” of the road. benefited from the late president’s “policies” and provided his system with sufficient foundations to function relatively unchallenged from within. 29 The logic of this system penetrates even further down the social hierarchy. even though its actual production has collapsed from some 500. it remains the owner of Katanga’s considerable mineral deposits and can translate its own legal existence into jointventure contracts with foreign companies.

1985. blur the cards of politics for common people. they do not fix it themselves and also by and large turn it into a resource. It is the road’s very weakness that allows them to turn it into a resource. insurgencies and the like. only those villages where a “pastoral agent” is delegated by the Church to organize collective action embark on infrastructural rehabilitation. Political uncertainty. They are what Bayart calls “cadets sociaux. According to Nest. and complicate. dissertation. Nest. 30 Jean-François Bayart. 31 It could be argued that other members of the village do not engage in this private use of the road and are more likely to ask for assistance in rehabilitating the road. this helps account for the widespread distribution of nationalist sentiments among the population and for their reproduction at a time of failing statehood. For grass-root Congolese. the state provides a psychological sense of security. Hence. as this would reduce opportunities for income while promoting at best only distant improvements in the quality of life. if not endanger. L’Etat au Cameroun. nationalist fervor further helps concede from the Congolese that their own state may lie at the roots of such dispossessions. who find themselves systematically on the predated side of Congolese history. 30 Yet. their actions show them to be also predators who use one effect of state incapacity---bad roads---as the instrument of their predation. As a group and from a longer-term perspective. 31 In all the abovementioned cases. the idea of Congo’s grandeur is all that remains to a people that has been dispossessed of its wealth. But from a short-term individual perspective. State stability is therefore an intrinsic resource in the lives of people who have to struggle for survival as it represents an anchor in their volatile and vulnerable life.taxation of travelers. the state remains a crucial resource to the extent that it offers a minimum level of certainty about public life. their daily lives." Unpublished Ph. the opportunity to form relatively stable expectations about where power and resources lie. Kisangani. it is the very dysfunctionality and weakness of state or statecontrolled institutions which allows the latter to be transformed into private resources. that these young men are by no means part of Congo’s elite. Far from contradicting their misery. and extending state authority is a way for NGOs to achieve their practical and philosophical goals. “The Evolution of a Fragmented State: The Case of the Democratic Republic of Congo. According to the Archdiocese of Kisangani.” people at the bottom of the social scale. its peace and much of its human dignity. a motive to request assistance. facilitating thereby their village’s insertion in local trade networks. November 2001). warlords. however. . Yet. on the other hand.QEH Working Paper Series – QEHWPS95 Page 9 which they derive from this quasi. Note. they find greater benefit in turning the decayed public road into a private resource. 236-282. and a modicum of reduction of transaction costs as they go about their lives. To some extent. New York University. the weak state is not only an instrumental resource for predatory human relations. Paris: Presses de la Fondation Nationale des Sciences Politiques. 32 I am grateful to Alice Sindzingre to whom I owe this point. See also Michael W. 2002.D. it also represents an intrinsic resource to individuals at the bottom of the social hierarchy. they would probably benefit from fixing it and encouraging traffic. whereas one would be tempted to see them as victims of Congo’s failed development. Finally. 32 Combined with the fact that oppressed people who are preoccupied with survival on a daily basis cannot be assumed to undertake revolutions. the road with its potholes is a resource to them. Others cannot be convinced to do work on their own roads (interview. There is thus little incentive among the Congolese to boost state capacity or improve the quality of governance.

The juridical guarantee of the state’s existence that is the by-product of international sovereignty reduces pressures for capacity building.. hence. NJ: Princeton University Press. first. the evidence of international legitimacy provided by the recognition of the sovereign status of a government can be used as an instrument of political control. with its internationa l sanction. rebel groups are occasionally able to develop strong local control based on local legitimacy or social structure. in the absence of such strong domestic legitimacy.cit. By guaranteeing its existence under virtually any set of circumstances. however.2. Kabila traded control over territory and physical resources for the preservation of formal state control and. when he invited Angolan. structure and power. with Mobutu’s policy of “Zaireanization” of foreign-owned assets in 1974. 1988. 34 It prevents failed institutions from disappearing and allows them to outlive their functional existence. The Benefits of Sovereignty There is more than the mere weakness of the state to transform it into a private resource. Yet.QEH Working Paper Series – QEHWPS95 Page 10 2. gives state institutions and personnel. Sovereignty. 35 For sure. The international recognition of the sovereignty of Congo’s state institutions is a paramount mechanism by which. a case of governmental repression of a minority. the first effect of international sovereignty on state predation is its capacity to free up state elites from the constraints of state building. This law was confirmed in the early 1990s by the transition parliament appointed by the National Sovereign 33 See Jackson and Rosberg (1982). the weak state can be reproduced and its predatory nature maintained and. sovereignty shields political elites from the penalties associated with the “weak state-strong society” dichotomy. 35 This is in part why visits of African heads of state abroad and their meetings with other heads of state tend to receive disproportionate coverage in African media. which somewhat shields it from challenges. additional resources can accrue to the holders of state power. external recognition is not the only source of control over local populations. The cases of Yoweri Museveni’s National Resistance Army in Uganda in the 1980s. and it is a resource to be exploited per se. One of its main benefits is to allow governments to present predation as policy. Princeton. This was the case. op. in Congo as elsewhere. which privately transferred the assets of foreigners to government cronies and their allies. In their predatory activities. international sovereignty allows the state to enforce itself upon its citizens without having to resort to continuous violence. of constructing and maintaining institutional capacity. or of the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front in Ethiopia until the early 1990s are cases in point. The second supportive role of sovereignty is further reaching. substance. 33 Starting with Laurent-Désiré Kabila. and without the capacity to truly penetrate society. The impact of international sovereignty on the reproduction of the predatory state is thus twofold: it supports predatory activities. Strong Socieites and Weak States: State-Society relations and State Capaibilities in the Third World. sovereign status. . a case of theft masqueraded as policy. Congolese political elites have pushed this logic to its limit by surrendering control of large chunks of their territory. for the original statement of this thesis. Namibian and Zimbabwean military interventions in 1998. In effect. From the perspective of its supportive role. In the absence of such recognition. for example. and of asserting territorial control. 34 Joel Migdal. second. and makes them hard to escape for the Congolese. It was also the case of the 1981 law that stripped all Congolese of Rwandan origins (the so-called Banyarwanda) of their citizenship. See also Jeffrey Herbst (2000). To refer to Migdal’s classic terminology. state agents derive domestic power from the evidence of their international legitimacy.

but are incapable of entering into contractua l relations of exploitation and to transfer ownership of local assets to themselves. It is only after these two countries complained of this unequal treatement that its investigations were extended to the government side. The first of its report in fact only covered the activities of Rwanda and Uganda. as they lack the juridical personality to do so. the government’s capacity to act as sovereign ruler confers the seal of legality to robbery and persecution. bypassing local rebel organizations and juridical pretenses. and even then hardly so (as witnessed by the lack of serious intervention on behalf of Rwanda’s Tutsis in 1994). and contributes thereby to the elites’ strategies of accumulation. on the other hand. irrespective of its own empirical weakness.” According to the final report of the UN Panel of Experts on the Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources and Other Forms of Wealth of the Democratic Republic of Congo. For daily economic exploitation at the hands of a sovereign state. Whether in the case of Zaireanization. In all these cases. Rebel leaders. governments can still hide behind their sovereignty to dodge the bullet. United Nations Security Council. additionally. when they do in fact end up accused of abuses. Only in the most outrageous cases of genocide and crimes against humanity is this principle bent in international law. is an instrument of domination reserved to the sovereign. which was finally called to account in the latest report in October 2002. there is no international legal recourse for domestic populations. . as they can raise the principle of nonintervention in their domestic affairs against outside attempts to check their excesses. of the Banyaranda or of the exploitation of Congo’s natural resources. sovereignty is a legal artifice which protects the exploitation of Congo’s resources by state elites and their allies. however. with the likely sympathy of many other governments 36 Final Report of the Panel of Experts on the Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources and Other Forms of Wealth of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Yet. Zimbabwe and the Congolese government itself. In the east of the country. See the section on foreign direct investments below for more on this.QEH Working Paper Series – QEHWPS95 Page 11 Conference.”36 In this case. 37 Few foreign companies will also want to work with them.) The capacity to act as sovereign ruler is also what has allowed individuals in the current Kinshasa government to engage in what the United Nations has called “asset stripping. S/2002/1146. It also shields weak governments from outside interference. take a relatively harder stance towards Rwandan and Ugandan exactions than those of Angola. The three successive reports of the UN Panel of Experts on the Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources and Other Forms of Wealth of the Democratic Republic of Congo. International sovereignty is not only a domestic currency. do not have the same options. Local rebels then try to control and tax the residual production. an “elite network” of Congolese and Zimbabwean state and military interests “transferred ownership of at least US$5billion of assets from the State mining sector to private companies under its control in the past three years with no compensation or benefit for the State treasury of the Democratic Republic of Congo. 37 Passing a law to penalize a specific group in society. the instruments of predation are policy instruments which are reserved to states. how the National Conference felt it necessary to label itself Sovereign as part of its attempt to wrestle political control away from the state. for example. (Note. therefore. Rwanda and Uganda by and large directly exploit natural resources under their military control. Rebels may want to pass decrees expropriating assets but the legality of these will be challenged as soon as possible and their enforcement will depend on the rebels’ monopoly of physical force. deprived of international sovereignty.

this does not imply that this line of reasoning is always successful. Yet. as opposed to 4% for agriculture and 0% for social services. concluded an 38 39 “DR Congo Plunder Denied. Kabila’s rule) is by and large allocated to discretionary funds. aid flows benefit a cross-section of Congolese society. 41 Non-state actors only receive humanitarian aid which. access to which depends on the sovereign status of the recipient country.-D. The United States’ Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) only offers insurance to investors operating in entities recognized by the United States government. Kikaya Bin Karubi. In the first case. Although it can be overturned. In 1992. 40 Foreign aid is thus a highly valuable resource for power holders. As a result. international sovereignty entitles regimes to official development assistance. the Bank of Zaire reported that 95% of the national budget was earmarked for the services of the presidency (65% according to the World Bank). . Whether aid flows accrue to the state budget or to the private accounts of holders of state authority is a more or less moot disctinction in Congo. there is therefore a favorable presumption towards sovereign governments. as only recognized countries receive development aid. Anglo-American. “The Congolese government is the legitimate government of this country … Whatever we do is legitimate. the budget (when there is one—there weren’t any for the first few years of L. 1996. Many civil servants on payrolls are fictitious. See Christopher Clapham. in some cases like sudan’s SPLA or Hutu refugees in Congo from 1994 to 1996. Salaries given to these people actually represent the private conversion of institutional public resources. 40 Cited in Reno (1998):151-152.” BBC News [http://news. These are often conditional upon guarantees of insurance and arbitration. As the Congolese government spokesman. it is a line of defense that other actors do not have. 39 While they may appear restricted to political elites. there have only been two documented instances of contractual investments between foreign companies and non-state authorities in In fact.QEH Working Paper Series – QEHWPS95 Page 12 (as attested by most of Africa’s failure to condem Zimbabwe’s recent predatory policies and electoral frauds). In addition.stm]. Beyond these adjuvant roles to state predation. a South African mining There are also few recourse in international law against the validity of the contracts passed by the government with foreign companies for the exploitation of the country’s natural resources. which appropriates them through the government’s budget and the clientelistic networks of political elites. since most of the budget itself is privatized. First and foremost. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. As the UN report demonstrates. can represent significant enough resources to maintain their local domination. Africa and the International System: The Politics of State Survival. The World Bank’s Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) only works with sovereign entities. the Kinshasa government is much more likely to attract foreign operators in the regions under its control---and extract resources from them and in conjunction with them---than are rebel authorities in their regions. the Congolese government---or members thereof---did in fact come under accusatory scrutiny for exploiting the resources of the sovereignty also represents intrinsic value to holders of state power.”38 Of course. 41 International sovereignty also facilitates foreign direct investments. And it is conditioned by norms of sovereign statehood and territorial integrity. told the BBC in reference to accusations against members of the government in the report of the UN Panel of Experts. from which local elites benefit. which fuels their networks of patronage and funds the transformation of the state into a resource.

. and involved a less-than-reputable firm.” See Ernest Wamba-dia-Wamba. It is of some interest that the only rebel organization to have attempted to embark on such a deal was under the control of Ernest Wamba-Dia -Wamba.1. 136-153. foreign investments are overwhelmingly limited to zones of international sovereignty. despite the failures of the state and the multiple polarizations of society. Op. the private benefits of which they can reap.” In Adebayo O. Cit.” Unpublished manuscript. this was an instance of “future booty” based on the anticipation of Kabila’s approaching sovereignty. it would have constituted a remarkable case of institutional innovation and an attempt by a rebel organization to take over some of the trappings of sovereignty. In addition. 14162-14163. only after both MbujiMayi and Lubumbashi had fallen to Kabila’s troops in April 1997. and fail to challenge its existence and its domination. 3. 43 Africa Research Bulletin. the nationalist discourse provides the ideological legitimation of their strategy of institutions-as-resources. For elites. and the US Customs service was investigating it for money laundering allegations. and seemed to sink the deal with it.. “Booty Futures: Africa’s Civil Wars and the Futures Market for Natural Resources. however.QEH Working Paper Series – QEHWPS95 Page 13 investment contract worth almost $1bn with Laurent-Désiré Kabila a few months before the latter took over power in Kinshasa. 1996. 42 The fact that Anglo-American’s CEO. under control of the spin-off rebel group Rassemblement Congolais pour la Démocratie-Mouvement de Libération (RCD-ML). which agreed to spend $16m for the renovation of 15 hospitals and some roads in the Orientale province. the ongoing simultaneity of centrifugal experiments in peripheral provinces and rebel-controlled territories. that Anglo-American embarked on this deal. outlook by most Congolese. The RCD-ML soon fizzled away as a credible organization. It was. though it is unclear whether this arrangement could have become operational even if RCD-ML had survived. UCLA Department of Political Science. one of the few Congolese intellectuals to ever have challenged the Congolese “nation-state project. and even because. and barely a month before the fall of Kinshasa. 43 These two exceptions notwithstanding. the First International Bank of Grenada (FIBG). lent his private airplane to Kabila’s troops further suggests his hope and anticipation of their victory. The second instance occurred in the east of the country. The Preference for Nationalism 3. “The National Question in Zaire: Challenges to the Nation-State Project. Political elites wish to maintain the failed sovereign state because it represents a resource---both instrumental and intrinsic---. Ross. Jean-Raymond Boulle. the state’s intrinsic value as a relatively predictable structure of power makes it appealing to individuals despite. As Michael Ross notes. December 1999-January 2000. apparently in exchange for becoming the equivalent of the RCD’s central bank and issuing “a mining-assets backed new currency in the rebel territories. therefore.). in November 1999. a tool for reinforcing and reproducing the state. however. Functions of the Nationalist Discourse The benefits of weak statehood and sovereignty promote the adoption of a nationalist. FIBG had indeed been previously banned from activities in Canada because of investment frauds. and a means to counteract and disenfranchise the political expression of 42 Michael L.” Had this deal actually gone through. July 2002. Olukoshi and Liisa Laakso (eds. rather than of pure contracting between rebels and foreign firms. The neopatrimonial logic of rule in Congo implies that a large number of non-elites also benefit from the transformation of the nation-state into a private resource because of their participation in the elite’s clientelistc networks. rather than secessionist or revolutionary.

are almost exclusively responsible for actual political outcomes. Hence. It is impossible to conceive of it. Our leaders are from all provinces."44 Most regional leaders then traded off their original separatist or federalist demands for positions in the national state. operating in an environment free of democratic pressures. 47 Jean-Pierre Biloussa.” In Jacques Vanderlinden (ed. Moïse Tshombé followed the same logic. The same is true of the RCD. November 2001. if dysfunctional. whose Association des BaKongo (ABAKO) party had earlier announced the creation of a Bakongo-based “Republic of Central Kongo.”47 44 45 J. What we do want is to change the mode of management in Congo and to have more autonomy for the provinces. Interview in Kisangani. “La Politique.independence Congo lese political elites switched from defending their regional interests to pursuing nationalist agendas illustrates the benefits they found in this ideology for their pursuit of power. . the idea of a unified Congo was already removed from the realm of the negotiable. 1963:41. La Sécession katangaise. In the words of RCD-Goma Secretry-General Azaryas Ruberwa: We want a united Congo. and Joseph Kabila in the margins of the Sun City Inter-Congolese Dialogue in April 2002. The same holds true of contemporary rebel groups. Jean-Pierre Bemba. We say yes to the unity of Congo but never to unitarism. At the constitution-making Round-Table of 1960. 46 Azarias Ruberwa. Brussels: CRISP:112. the current rebellion is a repositionning exercise. expectations by private citizens largely accounts for the spread of the nationalist discourse throughout the lower reaches of society.). Joseph Kasavubu. Rejecting a system that would have given more power to the provinces. despite persistent rumors of its separatist intentions. state institutions over unpredictable reconfigurations of power and economic life. Gérard-Libois. he buried once and for all any element of Bakongo autonomy or irredentism in his discourse. Jean-Pierre Biloussa. […. For citizens in general. Benoit Verhaegen and Jacques Vanderlinden.QEH Working Paper Series – QEHWPS95 Page 14 alternative public identities. Rather than selfdetermination. however. Du Congo au Zaire 1960-1980: Essai de bilan. Emphasis mine. We want federalism. The MLC’s overwhelming interest in regaining access to state power was illustrated by the agreement between its leader. Whereas the preference for stable. he accepted the position of prime minister of all of Congo in 1964. if negative. There are more advantages to a united Congo than a partitioned Congo. independence politician Joseph Iléo declared "The conference certainly does not have the objective to prepare the explosion [éclatement] of Congo. The rapidity with which most pre. the following pages focus mostly on the behavior and rationales of political elites to the extent that the latter. The RCD rebellion does not have independence or secession as an objective. 46 The RCD governor of the Oriental Province. 1980. After having rejected the national idea and launched the secession of Katanga from 1960 to 1963. although a few years later.” was offered the presidency by the Belgians partly out of fear of Bakongo separatism. Interview in Goma. trading off regional autonomous aspirations for a central position in state power.] Let's create a Congolese nation because it does not exist yet. echoes similar sentiments: "This is a movement for power in Kinshasa. Brussels: CRISP. We have never thought of secession.] Territorial integrity allows us to remain une puissance en Afrique [sic] […. nationalism is the political expression of a preference for established. November 2001. 45 In exchange for such access to the state. the use of the nationalistic discourse as an ideological justification for such objectives.

realizing that Rwanda was no longer interested in a military takeover of Kinshasa. or when the economic returns to sovereignty depreciated. In Congo. It also happened in the 1990s when Mobutu’s failure to convincingly democratize and his alleged recourse to violence against students at the University of Lubumbashi led the West to marginalize him and cut off virtually all aid flows to his regime. another split led to the creation of the RCD-National (emphasis mine). excluded from the accord. local identities fail to find outlets to their cultural specificities. In times like these. This is what explains the secessions of the 1960s and the drives for autonomy of Kasai and Katanga in the 1990s. Joseph Kabila’s earlier. RCD-National and RCD-Authentique) all declared their willingness to collaborate with Kinshasa and the first two were actually signatories to the Sun City power-sharing agreement. or break away from the state. RC D leader Ernest Wamba-dia-Wamba set up his own faction. the RCDKisangani. In February 2001. ethnic clientelism and polarization rise and coexist therefore with a nationalist discourse. political elites use a nationalist discourse as platform to build a minimum winning coalition. When nationalism prevails. also based on a rejection of Rwanda’s limited objectives of controlling Hutu rebels in the Kivu and Orientale provinces. But the embrace by the West of Kabila’s takeover in 1997 (embalmed in nationalist discourse) again put an end to opportunities for local strategies of self-determination and brought the Congolese back around their state.” which implied that the RCD-Goma. and sought Ugandan protection. Although the country’s natural wealth may be concentrated in regions far away from the capital. . as they usually derive from the unwillingness of leadership elements to wait any longer for better forms of reinsertion with Kinshasa. The nationalist discourse becomes then the foundation for the reproduction of the state’s otherwise failed and predatory institutions. While competing for state access for the benefit of the particularistic interests of their own group. denying legitimacy to alternative scenarios and confining all other such actions to military factionalism for control of the state itself. or to the non-threatening realm of “civil society.mentioned labeling of the Sun City agreement as “patriotic. Secessionist moments in Congo’s history have occurred when the sovereignty of the central state was challenged from outside. Competition in the display of nationalism can thus be perceived as competition for power. Hence. These three groups (RCD-Kisangani. In May 1999. This happened in the very early years of independence when it was not yet clear how livable postcolonies would be. The association of political violence with a universal nationalist discourse is thus only superficially paradoxical. the limited likelihood that any secessionist movement would be internationally recognized considerably reduces the appeal of local separatist strategies of power in normal times. it makes sense for local elites to capitalize on the weakening international status of the state and experiment with local strategies of power and access to resources. more leaders escaped in May 2002 to set up the RCD-Authentique. however.” By reinforcing the reproduction of the state. and to define others as non-patriotic and keep them on the outside. Finally. reform. was an enemy of Congo. As a result. it guarantees the predatory potential of its institutions. political violence provides the means to fight for (re)insertion into the system by marginalized and excluded groups.QEH Working Paper Series – QEHWPS95 Page 15 The many factional splits which the RCD has encountered since its creation in 1998 are consequences of this logic. and when political chaos in the capital led foreign powers to consider other options than backing the state as a whole. It does not represent attempts to challenge. revolutionize.

. and resource grievances. 8. the dependence on the state is more than a matter of subsidies. the Katanga secession of 1960-1963 also broadly derived from Congo lese dynamics of power. it was predicated upon the desire of “indigenous” Katangan populations. their physical control is usually not sufficient for their translation into resources. separatist decisions must therefore be understood as rational calculus of potential costs and benefits. represented by traditional chiefly associations and ethnic mutual welfare societies. 48 In Congo. it is a question of being able to use public institutions as private resources. From a local perspective. Although it is often referred to as a Belgian plot to retain control over the mineral resources of Congo.2. outweighs the potential return of resources associated with control or partial control of the sovereign national state. To the extent that they represent the actions of political elites choosing to capitalize upon local cultural or economic grievances. Daniel Treisman found that there is a strong relationship between the economic prospects and bargaining power of an ethnic region and its degree of separatist activism. or had high industrial exports were much more separatist. . The pattern that emerges is one in which movements and drives towards autonomy and secession are attempted either when the sovereignty of the central state is contested from abroad. 3.cit. In the case of the former Soviet Union. This appeal of the state competes with the appeal of local raw materials in the decisions of regional leaders to secede or not. above all. But. identity differentiation. as Katanga’s contribution to Congo’s revenues approached 50% while its receipts from the national budget only reached 20% in 1957. the Katanga secession was an opportunistic decision by Tshombé who bet on the possibility that the Congolese state would not survive the 48 49 Treisman 1997:239. Those that relied heavily on central subventions to fund regional government spending tended to be more cautious. This suggests a strong element of rational calculation in the incidence of separatist action. without international recognition of the sovereignty of public authorities making a claim to these raw materials. The secession was also based on a sense of economic grievance vis-à-vis the central state. or when the benefits of institutiona l enforcement and resource distribution associated with sovereignty are threatened. were major raw material producers. Moïse Tshombé’s Confédération des Associations Tribales du Katanga (CONAKAT) was indeed mostly composed of Lunda and Yeke people who considered themselves “authentic Katangans” as opposed to the “strangers” from Kasai (mostly Luba) who had immigrated to work in Katangan mines.QEH Working Paper Series – QEHWPS95 Page 16 Secessions can thus be expected if the potential return of local resources. in the absence of international recognition. J Gé rard-Libois. Those ethnic regions that had large populations and high industrial output. and especially from the Kasaian migrants who represented the local Congolese administrative and business elite. Self-Determination in Congolese History A review of Congo’s episodes of rebellion or alleged secession attempts illustrates the see-saw between nationalism and separatism as a function of the strength and perceived benefits of sovereignty. to take control of their political and economic destiny away from other Congolese living in their province. op. 49 But.

Brussels: Max Arnold. and International Politics. eight days after the beginning of the Force Publique mutiny. 50 Compounded with the two men’s incapacity to restore order in their country. 1976. Provincial opposition parties. against a relatively more peaceful and pro-capitalist Katanga. 74. 78. Tensions then mounted between Kasavubu and Lumumba.N. The Katanga declaration of independence occurred on July 12. 51 The Katanga secession was never successful. Foreign powers by and large guaranteed the reproduction of the Congolese state at this very early stage and provided it with life support. or O. the legitimacy of the secession vis-à-vis the state was hurt. op.” 52 After Lumumba’s assassination in Katanga on January 17. which in turn gave additional momentum to the secession. 1980. and it bears insisting that no country. After initial hesitations in 1960.cit. who dismissed each other from office and further projected abroad the image of a stillborn state. were apparently on the verge of supporting Tshombé in voting for secession. “Katanga was the offender who had to be called to order. Tellingly. with US backing. not even Belgium. 1961. during which Tshombé seized his opportunity. The Cold War was indeed an important parameter in the Katanga secession as it pitted “leftist” Lumumba with “anti-communist” Tshombé. and authorized the use of force against Katanga. Joining the secession was also a decision based on access to the state for other Katangan elites. ever recognized Katanga as an independent state. which is further evidence that Congolese secessions are not so much instances of cultural self-determination as tactical moves for state power.QEH Working Paper Series – QEHWPS95 Page 17 upheavals and mutinies that immediately followed the proclamation of its independence on June 30. after the defeat of his secession.. a national executive that struggled with legitimacy gave way to a government of national unity (except for Katanga) under Cyrille Adoula. Tshombé continued to negotiate with the Congolese government on the terms of a possible reunification. foremost among whom the Balubakat. predicated as it was upon the unc ertainties of state recognition. the international community rallied behind the sovereignty of Congo and doomed Katanga’s chances for successful secession. Tshombé became prime minister of Congo in 1964. The United Nations in the Congo. Finally. 52 Struelens. however. however. The next day Kasavubu and Lumumba approached the Soviet Union about the possibility of military assistance. On February 21. . On July 13. the UN forces defeated the Katanga secession in 1963 and Tshombé was sent into exile. albeit split in three provinces. largely in response to the murder of Lumumba and the increasing anarchy. and decided there was more potential for a future in regional rather than in national politics. crucially altering the expected payoffs of Tshombé’s action and turning Congo from a 50 51 Verhaegen and Vanderlinden. inadvertently reducing Congo’s international sovereignty in the process. but relented when he did not fulfill his promise to enlarge his cabinet with ministers from the Baluba region. Prime Minister Lumumba broke diplomatic relations with Belgium because of its sympathies with Katanga. Tshombé requested recognition and admittance to the United Nations but was ignored. 1961.” writes a sympathetic author. 1960. During the whole period from 1960 to 1963. Michel Struelens. On August 2.. the UN Security Council passed a resolution to prevent civil war in the Congo. and affected perceptions of Congo’s sovereignty as the West weighed the benefits of protecting a fractured newly independent Congo with potentially communist tendencies. “No matter that the rest of the Congo was degenerating into nightmarish chaos.U. this request further weakened the legitimacy of the central state in the eyes of the West in the Cold War context. set up under UN auspices.C.cit. op. while his region rejoined the fold of the state.

000 men and nine European officers in 1961. After setting up their own 53 54 Verhaegen and Vanderlinden. and organized for autonomous rule. Op. 454. They invaded Congo from Burundi in April 1963 and. Mulele. controlled half the country and seven of the twenty-one provincial capitals. In August 1960. and how the West and the then Western-dominated UN system conditioned these local dynamics with their capacity to grant sovereign status to territorial entities. Kalonji “saw in the chaotic environment of the period the opportunity to realize his dream of becoming supreme leader somewhere. But.QEH Working Paper Series – QEHWPS95 Page 18 moribund shell into a worthwhile resource. Politics….” and had himself proclaimed king by local traditional rulers. beyond Mulele’s own ethnic group. The army of South Kasai included 3. Albert Kalonji. how these were in turn aborted when the respective sovereignty statuses of central and provincial authorities were clarified.. 55 The autonomous state functioned relatively well until September 1962 when the central government facilitated a local military revolt to regain control of the province. Belgium provided Katanga with military. It failed to spread. proclaimed the Mining State. by September. op. 55 Georges Nzongola-Ntalaja. Kalonji was a political opportunist who seized the occasion of a chaotic central state in Kinshasa to reorient his quest for power on the local stage. including advisors. and the display by the international community of its willingness to intervene on behalf of Congo’s territorial integrity. although the Baluba had won the most seats in the May 1960 elections. returned to Congo in 1963 and launched a peasant-based “Maoist” rebellion in the Kwilu province in January 1964. Laurent-Désiré Kabila and Gaston Soumialot were the main Simba leaders on the ground and represented a group of nationalist parties based in Brazzaville. Both the Katangan and South Kasai examples illustrate the extent to which a weakening of the perceived sovereignty of the central state triggered local strategies of power by Congolese regional elites. who feared that the central government would gain control of Kasai’s diamond mines.54 Kalonji had the support of the Luba. challenges to state authority no longer took on separatist dimensions but were limited to violent attempts to wrestle control of the state away from its perceived “neo-colonialist” regime. As Nzongola-Ntalaja puts it. after Lumumba had managed to hand over the province’s leadership to a Lulua. it increasingly sided with the central government. Again. 53 As a result. a lieutenant of Lumumba who had gone into exile after the failure of the first Stanleyville government. Young. a Luba from Kasai who was one of Lumumba’s main rivals in the Mouvement National Congolais (MNC). no country recognized the sovereignty of South Kasai and Kalonji eventually turned his attentions to the national political stage. mercenaries and a writer for its constitution. after Lumumba’s death. Following the stabilization of the sovereign status of Congo after 1963. becoming agriculture minister in the 1964 Tshombé government. The Simba rebellions in Eastern Congo represented another such case of nationalist uprising challenging the state leadership rather than the state itself.cit. In response.cit. economic and technical assistance. Lumumba's troops attacked Mbuji-Mayi in South Kasai and massacred Baluba civilian populations. 103. it was accused of instigating and supporting the secession in order to maintain control of its former colony. and was embittered by his failure to secure an influential position in the national government. 2002. Certainly. thus contributing to the failure of the secession. however. More than Tshombé. . One of these challenges was the Mulelist rebellion in Kwilu between 1964 and 1967. The “Great Mining State of South Kasai” was the other main secessionist movement of that period.

and other countries following Lumumba’s assassination in 1961. with it. Verhaegen and Vanderlinden. Secessions.cit. though. exemplifying again the importance of foreign powers in the maintenance of Zaire’s existence and integrity. the objective for each of these movements was to take over the entire country rather than to break away from it. had been recognized by Egypt. before dissolving in the mid-1980s. Cuba. . In 1967.000 FNLC troops invaded Shaba and captured three cities as well as several hundred square kilometers of western Shaba. although it took place in Katanga. doomed to non-recognition. 58 Young and Turner. could benefit from the recognition of non-Western countries and carried therefore a greater promise of success. this movement did not involve any separatist element. Moroccan forces and the Zairean army re-entered the towns lost in March and the FNLC fully retreated by the end of May. Op. The FNLC launched a new invasion in May 1978 (Shaba II). Nationalist and revolutionary insurrections. Once again. 1964. 58 On March 8. They came close to Kolwezi before Moroccan troops (brought in by French aircraft) recaptured lost territory with little engagement. Although its origins derived from the forces involved in the Katanga secession of 1960-63 and its ethnic profile was mostly Lunda---a population deemed separatist---the FNLC took great pains to differentiate itself from the Katanga secessionist movement and stressed the element of national liberation of Congo in both its name and its stated goal of taking over the entire country. Yugoslavia. China. the USSR.QEH Working Paper Series – QEHWPS95 Page 19 government in Stanleyville. renamed Shaba.56 Both the Mulelist insurrection and the Simba rebellion illustrate the changing nature of the political game in Congo following the decision by the West to support the country’s territorial integrity. Morroco. No further recognition would come for its “second independence” as it failed to conquer the state capital and. op. Ghana. therefore. with apparent complicity from the Zairean army. they promptly lost momentum for failing to develop any administration in the regions they controlled militarily. and Congo had fallen squarely in the Western camp. Indeed. were no longer perceived as credible options. East Germany. the Stanleyville government never received any international recognition and could not sustain its legitimacy with local populations. It was not until 1977 that a new self-determination challenge took place. Poland. with the Mobutuist state having reached its apex. 1977. on the other hand. Mercenaries and Belgian paratroopers recaptured Stanleyville on November 24. Although its objective this time 56 57 Young and Turner.cit. some 2. and involved the remnants of the secessionist Gendarmes who launched an invasion from their Angolan rear-base. In April. repeating a similar nationalist strategy held the promise of recognition and sovereignty. and occupied Kolwezi in a surprise move from Zambian territory. But the political conditions after 1964 were no longer in the same state of flux as in 1960 and 1961. commonly referred to as Shaba I. established in 1968 by Nathaniel Mbumba and mainly composed of Lunda and Chokwe. Although the state was still weak and armed struggles appeared to be a reasonable means to achieve power. Guinea. was led by the Congo National Liberation Front (FNLC). the claim to state sovereignty. Op. the Orientale and Maniema provinces were also finally retaken by government troops. set up after the dismissal of Lumumba in September 1960. the original Stanleyville government of Antoine Gizenga. The Shaba invasion of 1977. Only the tiny Fizi-Baraka region in South Kivu remained under control of Kabila for many years to come. 57 For Mulele and the Simba leadership.cit. More importantly.

marginalized from the Congolese state.1.founded observations. and Self-Determination 4. Globalization. Not surprisingly. Anti-Kasaian violence unfolded in Katanga the very next day. France and Belgium immediately intervened. this was a means to oust Mobutu. resorted to armed insurrection not so much to carve themselves a new political space but to change the regime at the core of Congo and force their own reintegration in the post-colonial state. and not the Congolese. State Dilution and Strategies of Autonomy in the Early 1990s After 1990. which was unwilling to democratize. who rushed to the defense of Congo. The next section considers to what extent changes that have intervened in the international state system since the early 1990s have contributed to changing the parameters of political action and self-determination in Congo. 4. On August 15. a Lunda from Katanga related to Moïse Tshombé.500 Moroccans was then sent to guard Kolwezi. Etienne Tshisekedi of Kasai. The first crucial element of these episodes is that formerly secessionist actors. was elected prime minister by the Sovereign National Conference in replacement of Nguza Karl I Bond. A permanent contingent of 1. and the latter as a function of their perception of where sovereignty lies.grounded fears of reprisals by the Zairean army). Mobutu’s new outcast status was a particularly important factor as it resulted in a dramatic collapse of aid flows to Zaire and turned the national state into a much less appealing stage for the acquisition of resources (Figure 1). The FNLC seized Kolwezi and Mutshatsha. the political choices of local elites as a function of resource maximization. Gabriel Kyungu Wa Kumwanza. After further violence. to some extent. murdering and raping Africans and Europeans. The significance of Shaba I and II is not so much the lack of local support for these invasions (which. If one considers. At the core of this investigation is the question of whether the benefits of sovereignty have been deflated by trends associated with globalization. the FNLC approach was quite rational. Mobutu client. or the fact that they were foreign-driven and did not represent local struggles.QEH Working Paper Series – QEHWPS95 Page 20 was to capture Shaba. Katanga authorities were the first to make a significant move. and that Shaba as a whole was now in opposition to the government. a long-time Mobutu opponent. Nguza stated that his province did not recognize the authority of the new prime minister. On August 21. It was the West. and the invaders once again returned to Angola. The second important lesson of the Shaba invasions is that the maintenance of the Zairean state depended on foreign military intervention rather than deriving from a hypothetical national sentiment against the invaders. This strategy is surprising if one thinks of the southern Katanga populations as somehow primordially separatist. the province's governor. 1992. however. Sovereignty. but its undisciplined army began looting. led to a regain of autonomy-seeking activities by regional political leaders. proceeded from well. and president of the Union des Fédéralistes et Républicains Indépendants (UFERI). although these are well. . the partition of the Soviet Unio n and the ideological push by the West for the spread of electoral democracy combined to undermine the international legitimacy of the Mobutu regime. The perception of changing international norms regarding territorial integrity and the increased inability of the central state to transform its institutions into resources for lack of funding. recommended that people from Kasai living in Shaba be expelled. and cast fresh doubts in the minds of the Congolese as to the solidity of their country’s sovereignty. recaptured the town.

0 200. In December 1993. 61 Ibid. 60 DRC: Total Aid Flows. This episode of near provincial self-determination illustrates the extent to which secessionist decisions are mostly predicated upon the strategies of elites. 61 These local leaders still recognized the constraints of the international sovereignty of Congo. Paris: OECD.0 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 $ mn Figure 1 (Source: OECD.0 400. Encouraged by Mobutu who wanted to weaken the prime minister appointed by the national conference. awaiting repatriation to Kasai.0 0. Ibid. 59 In the following months. . Gécamines. Including UN 1600. he stressed that the top jobs in companies based in the region. In addition.0 1200. Kyungu proclaimed his province's autonomy and announced the imposition of taxes at the borders. 4th quarter 1992. Misc.0 800. which are in turn conditioned by the international status of the state. A few days later. 1st quarter 1993. and kept alive their options as national politicians by systematically referring to autonomy rather than independence. 13-14. It is indeed often argued that the Lundas of Katanga are 59 60 The Economist Intelligence Unit. should be handed over to locals. saying that the course of events depended upon how far the national conference pushed the people of Katanga..0 600.0 1400. Nguza’s UFERI stated its unconditional support for the autonomy of Katanga. This policy of ethnic cleansing eventually led to a more formal separation of Katanga from the rest of the country. Country Report: Zaire/Zambia. Geographical Distribution of Financial Flows to Developing Countries. Governor Kyungu decreed in November that all military officers of Baluba origin had to leave Shaba and called for permanent and strict control of people's movements between Shaba and the two provinces of Kasai Occidental and Kasai Oriental.QEH Working Paper Series – QEHWPS95 Page 21 Refugees were gathered in concentration camps. 1st quarter 1994.. including the copper mining company. during a visit to Katanga by Nguza. this competition among national political elites via regional ethnic polarization took on an increasingly separatist content. however. 31. Nguza then vowed that there would be no national reconciliation with Katanga under the auspices of the current government and refused to rule out the possibility of a secession. Years). rather than upon primordial identities.0 1000. 30.

and altogether avoided inflation while the rest of the country experienced price rises above 8.. chose a nationalist path behind Lumumba.. By 1996. the giant diamond.. with a Mulubakat. ‘. Kyungu.. which took over regional development planning. a Mulubakat. erecting their own institutions in the wake of the apparent collapse of the central state. we look east’. The case of Kasai Oriental’s autonomy from 1993 to 1996 (and in some respects to 1998) was then more truly an instance of a fairly homogeneous community. See also Howard French. The role of the Shaban ethnic cleansing of 1992-94 was important in getting Kasai started on its own drive for autonomy.] Instead. and developed its own university and a Conference for the Economic Development of Eastern Kasai (CODEKO). a senior Kivutien civil society figure told me in 1999: ‘you should realize that we don't look west here.] A strong scent of independence hangs in the air. over the border from Goma. towards the capital. which was driven by Lunda politicians while the northern Balubakat. ‘'West’.QEH Working Paper Series – QEHWPS95 Page 22 secessionist while the Balubakat are nationalist. Kinshasa. it responds to two local powers: the bishop and the diamond mine [….” .. in favor of provincial separatism." The Economist (1996). the Baluba. based on the pattern of the 1960s secession. “’Nos Richesses Sont Pillées’: Economies De Guerre et Rumeurs De Crime Dans Les Kivus.” wrote Stephen Jackson. “The long. Nguza. With the influx of highly skilled Luba refugees. Mbuji-Mayi began to boom and MIBA’s operations were reinforced by all the former Gécamines engineers. under the leadership of Jason Sendwe. was ready to fall back onto Katanga had he failed to secure his power in Kinshasa when the 1998 war unfolded. Similarly.. Kasai essentially developed its own currency and exchange rate." New York Times (1996):A1. 84 Décembre 2001 Special Issue “République Démocratique du Congo: la guerre vue d'en bas..” Politique Africaine. the Kigali government embarked on a military campaign that took it 62 "Zaire: A Provincial Gem. A4. He had moved the national parliament to Lubumbashi and was building a presidential palace in its outskirts before his assassination. towards Rwanda and Uganda.”62 Even the Kivu provinces were drifting away from the state in the early 1990s. as a consequence of their similar reading of the national political situation. saw an alliance of a Lunda politician. Kasai Oriental followed Katanga in its drive for autonomy. although its main politician. In the 1960s. "A Neglected Region Loosens Ties to Zaire.”63 These experiments in autonomy came to an end with the rise of the AFDL and the Rwandan invasion of 1996. never played the regional separatist card but maintained his aspirations for the prime ministership and presidency of the country. at least by the standards of the rest of Zaire. Preoccupied with a regime that supported its Hutubased opposition. 2001. “Nzoli. slow rotting from within of Mobutu's Zaire permitted the Kivus to build a degree of political and economic independence during the 1980s and 1990s. Kasai enjoyed relative prosperity. République Démocratique Du Congo.000% a year over the same period. it is often argued that Laurent-Désiré Kabila.’ Nzoli continued. By refusing to recognize new banknotes introduced by the Kinshasa regime.mining company. 63 Stephen Jackson. No. and we haven't for some time’. the respective leaders of these two communities had made different choices. Kasai had reached such a remarkable level of autonomy from Kinshasa that it caught the attention of The Economist : “The province of Eastern Kasai is all but independent of Kinshasa [. The main actors were the Catholic Church and MIBA. 1996. is as far away from Goma as Poland is from Portugal. but these proceeded from their perceived interests rather than from different ethnic outlooks. Etienne Tshisekedi. ‘Like it or not--and many don't particularly like it these days. The events of 1992-93. however.

then Katanga felt better about Congo because they thought then that they had Congo. University of Lubumbashi. as suggested in Frances Stewart’s chapter.” the UN has in fact been one 64 As per an informant. and regional military and economic interventions by neighboring countries such as Rwanda. 4. But when Kabila took over. "alors ça peut aller.2. for a weak state like Congo. and given Mobutu’s crumbling legitimacy with Western powers save France. April 2002. as defined by the new patterns of trade. none of this has led to any significant movement for self-determination against or away from the state. As local dynamics keep on trying to erase Congo. As a result. international and global assaults on its existence. and has in fact continued to find resources for its reproduction beyond its own borders. it restored an internationally recognizable authority in Kinshasa and ironically (given its own border-crossing origins) provided a new boost to Congo’s fledgling sovereignty. In doing so. the Congolese diaspora. the benefits of international sovereignty have not eroded in the era of globalization. It was hard then to think of secession. “by way of military intervention and economic sanction. The Resurrection of the Weak State Since the Kabila takeover of 1997. Non-Governmental Organizations. For sure. People did not feel 100% Congolese under Mobutu because of his repression. Surprisingly.QEH Working Paper Series – QEHWPS95 Page 23 all the way to Kinshasa for Mobutu’s overthrow. “Katanga was always mistreated by Mobutu. in contrast to the prevailing dynamics at the beginning of the decade. The following pages look at the effects on Congo’s reproduction of several features of the international system. local politicians rejoined the fold of national politics (especially in Katanga where Balubakat now embraced Kinshasa)64 and local experiences in state substitution (such as Kasai’s) folded in the face of a new imposition of state authority and renewed control by the state over the mining industry. addressing in turn the role of the United Nations. Since 1997. Processes of decision making involving the agencies of the state have continued to be recognized as legitimate (despite their usual neglect of the interests of the Congolese) while those of alternative institutions---whether rebel leaders. has not resulted in an erosion of either the idea of the Congolese state or its international sovereignty. the global system has once again come to the rescue of the idea of Congo while all elements on the ground militated for its dissolution. Yet. can seriously question the legitimacy of a nation-state and its ability to determine what occurs within its territorial boundaries. financial and information flows that followed the end of the Cold War. By supporting Kabila as representative of Congo’s sovereignty. Uganda and Zimbabwe. The informalization of international trade in some primary commodities. the Congolese state has successfully resisted all regional. a global logic keeps on bringing it back." Interview with Congolese professor. church groups or “traditional” authorities--have been marginalized. If Katangans are associated to the management of the country in Kinshasa. Globalization. or the transnational cultural linkages derived from refugee movements have provided motives and means to initiate and continue conflict. Contrary to expectations that bodies such as the United Nations. the international community contributed to putting an end to local movements of self-determination. globalization has made conflict easier for political protagonists in Congo. foreign aid. foreign direct investment. . guaranteeing the enduring appeal of the state and maintaining the prohibitive barriers to entry associated with self-determination options. the relative impunity of border crossings by foreign armies.

While the drying up of aid and its increased diversion towards non-governmental organizations in the first half of the decade led to centrifugal strategies by regional political elites. The incentive for nationalism implied by the quest for access to official development assistance has been magnified by the very public current preferences for territorial integrity of aid donors themselves. How bringing these together in the state would reduce rather than magnify their exploitative behavior was not demonstrated. In the 15 UN Security Council resolutions on Congo or the Great Lakes region passed since 1996. aid donors and creditors’s eagerness to cooperate with new state authorities since 1997 has brought many political actors back around the state. MONUC’s flights across the frontline (the only ones linking Kinshasa to rebel territories since 1998) have also reinforced the idea of the country (and have been used by some individuals for arbitrage between the foreign currency markets of Kinshasa and those of Goma and Kisangani). reaffirming its existence against all empirical evidence on the ground. the presence of MONUC.28). see Gary Dean. for example. MONUC’s initiative of sending a boat up the river from Kinshasa to rebel-contolled Kisangani also challenged the partition of the country. has also contributed to reinforcing the reproduction of Congo since the late 1990s. Although the West punished Mobutu for his unruliness. and its interventions have reinforced the state. were made well aware of this as the government had been promised new aid disbursements if it came back from the Dialogue with a successful political settlement. The new regime has been more aware of the opportunities associated with the resumption of development assistance. the Mission de l’Organisation des Nations Unies au Congo. it has since been willing to reward the preservation of Congo’s territorial integrity. putting additional pressure on Congolese politicians to play the Congolese game.inclusive transitional government […] which would ensure that central government control is reinstated” (p. The UN Panel of Experts on the Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources and Other Forms of Wealth of the Democratic Republic of Congo stated in its October 2002 report that a “step towards halting the exploitation of natural resources will be the early establishment of an all.QEH Working Paper Series – QEHWPS95 Page 24 of the the main instruments in support of Congo’s continued sovereignty. no longer a decayed and dying system but now the local counterpart to a significant group of international bureaucrats and military personnel from around the world. The UN has also demonstrated a presumption that promoting the reach of the state would contribute to curing Congo’s ills. . nor does it make intuitive sense. both bilateral and multilateral. Although very partial. Kabila senior’s ideological rigidities prevented him from seizing upon these opportunities for renewed aid flows and he promptly alienated the World Bank. in Kinshasa and across the country has reinforced the perception of validity of the state. This statement came in the wake of pages of evidence related to the abuses and exploitation of government officials and rebels alike. “Globalization and the National State” October 1998…. respect for territorial integrity was mentioned 31 times. Foreign aid. Finally. 65 It has repeatedly reaffirmed the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the country. among others. Participants in the Sun City Inter-Congolese Dialogue of April 2002. the eventual (and now defunct) April 2002 power-sharing agreement between the MLC and the government was enough to 65 For an example of such arguments. as aid resources underwrite the patronclient relationships which define power relations throughout Congolese society. despite the evidence that the state fully participates in the exploitatio n of the country’s resources for the private gains of the holders of state power.

66 This message was reinforced by the Belgian minister for foreign [on therefore. defined as secession attempts or major rebellions. Once aid commitments had been made in the mild enthusiasm that followed the Sun City agreement. as partial funding for the three-year “multi-sector emergency rehabilitation and reconstruction program.sector emergency program for Congo with disbursements estimated at $700m (though this would probably be conditional upon the DRC paying its arrears to the Fund). the World Bank had also agreed to a $45m budgetary aid to the government a week earlier. accessed May 3. During a March 2002 mission to the DRC. Horst Köhler. suggesting that Congolese elites adjust their behavior to the economic returns of sovereignty. Whereas.43. The abandonment by the government of its political agreement with the MLC after a few months in 2002 demonstrated the aid instrumentality of such accords. 69 By and large. “Belgium deeply believes in the capacity of the Congolese to walk the path of reconciliation in order to open up the enormous possibilities of international aid” (emphasis mine). The IMF’s General Director. 68 The World Bank was the first one to go from words to deeds. it shows that aid disbursements have been significantly lower on average in years preceding separatist or rebellious activity than in years preceding instances of social peace. a result of the new progress in the implementation of the Lusaka agreement and of the agreement reached between the government and the MLC which many other parties have also joined. it is now content to reserve it to those willing to preserve the state. 66 67 www. however. 2002] [www.” most of which was earmarked for infrastructure. visited Kinshasa barely a few days after the return of the government delegation in late April. Table 1 illustrates the extent to which self-determination instances. Köhler’s visit was a direct consequence of the Sun City agreement. as it signed a $454m credit agreement with the government in Kinshasa on May 4. 2002] 69 Déo Mulima Kapuku | La Référence Plus [on digitalcongo. 67 2002] 68 Hervé Bomey / MMCNews. also in Kinshasa in late April and according to respond to these incentives of aid. in the early 1990s.] The IMF’s Director promised to prepare the ground for integral support from the international community while the peace process and the country’s unification proceed. Nationalism was thus a tactical move for access to foreign resources via the state. the West conditioned this marketability of sovereignty to democratic progress. According to Congolese media. the embrace of the state or its rejection through separatism and rebellion are partly a function of the capacity of the sovereign state to deliver the resources of foreign aid to Congolese political elites and their followers.digitalcongo.year multi.digitalcongo. 2002] . Nkinsi / MMCNews.QEH Working Paper Series – QEHWPS95 Page 25 unleash a new round of support from the West to the central state. These are essential elements for the IMF in order to help the DRC and to transcend the situation that the country has known for a long time […. there was no longer any incentive for Kinshasa elites to share power in a government of national unity. Looking at all years since 1960. The correlation between foreign aid and instances of rebelliosn and secession lagged by one year is an astounding [accessed May 3. 2002. accessed May 6. it came as no surprise to the Congolese when the IMF apparently announced that it would consider a 3. Apparently. The Congolese adjust their political strategies accordingly. accessed May 3. the IMF had linked the participation of the international financial community in the DRC to progress in the Inter-Congolese Dialogue. Louis Michel.

QEH Working Paper Series – QEHWPS95 Table 1. "The Great Gold Rush in Zaire. such as Rwanda. which involved construction of a copper and cobalt 70 See Nicolas van de Walle (2001) and Chabel and Daloz (1999) for arguments on the ways in which adjustment lending promotes the reproduction of African states. Similarly. Of particular significance to the argument here is the fact that foreign aid has not undermined the state in recent years. Much noise was made in April 1997 of the financial agreement signed in the middle of that month between Kabila’s AFDL and Jean-Raymond Boulle’s American Mineral Fields (AMF). donors remained eager to provide aid to the state per se and made their preference known to Congolese political actors.3 519. . Uganda. Although aid dried up in the 1990s compared to earlier decades." New York Times. Foreign Aid. This is one more dimension in which the globalized world helps reproduce the nationstate more than was true under Col-War conditions. April-May 1997. Despite all the talk about the informalization. if not criminalization. Zaire: Country Report. 16 May 1997. even though aid inflows and commitments remained minimal from the early 1990s until 2002. Geographical Distribution of Aid Flows… Misc. A6. Economist Intelligence Unit.” TribuneReview. an Arkansas-based company listed on the Toronto stock exchange. Congo’s rebel groups are therefore casualties of the unipolar world in their failure to be seen as worthy recipients of non-humanitrian aid. sovereignty has remained a crucial parameter for foreign investors in Congo. of international transactions in the wake of globalization. aid was more easily given to rebel groups when they rose against clients of the other super-power. and the companies linked to their political elites. 13003. 71 See Christopher Ruddy.0042 Page 26 257. Therefore.governmental organizations. and the few that were made occurred at a time when its eventual victory and control of the sovereign state was no longer in doubt. this was linked to Mobutu’s declining popularity abroad and to Kabila’s inept leadership. the aid message changed significantly after the death of Mobutu and discouraged political entrepreneurs seeking non-state avenues of action. 71 The agreement. 2nd quarter 1997.3 Source: OECD. P > t (one-tailed) = 0. “Firm from Clinton’s hometown has deal with Zaire rebel Chief. ___ 1997. hardly any foreign investment has taken place since 1998 in rebel-controlled territories. investments too are conditional upon territorial integrity if only to the extent that integrity provides sovereignty which in turn opens up avenues of insurance and arbitration for foreign investors. Aid data missing for 1968. Secessions and Rebellions Average annual aid disbursements (in million current US$) In years preceding secession attempts or rebellions (n=14) In other years (n=23) t = 2. The resumption of macroeconomic program lending under Joseph Kabila virtually brought the state back to solvent life. apart from those of sovereign actors themselves. 70 Paradoxically. years. Howard French. Similarly to foreign aid. Very few agreements were made between foreign companies and the AFDL in the 1996-1997 period before the overthrow of Mobutu. During the cold war. Africa Research Bulletin.794. the allocation of foreign aid to sovereign states is to some extent a post-cold-war feature. While using a “civil society” discourse and highlighting their interests in non.

the rehabilitation of a cobalt plant at Kipushi ($30m) and the building of a zinc production plant also at Kipushi ($550650m). in addition. Africa Research Bulletin spoke of a “race for concessions” in its April-May 1997 issue. January-February 1997. after pressures from Gécamines. foreign operators. 76 In fact. 74 Similarly. had announced the signing of an investment convention with Gécamines together with a fiscal agreement with the Mobutu government. according to which Eurocan was to acquire a 55% participation in the Tenke Fungurume mine in exchange for $250m. for example. 74 Jean-Claude Willame. was set up on that occasion and committed to realize a feasibility study. After the fall of Lubumbashi on April 11. as mentioned earlier. 1999. 13003. In essence. sealing the fate of the Mobutu government. setting up a new company. 73 Africa Research Bulletin. was generally seen as a case of international investors dealing with a warlord to exploit local natural resour ces (an idea fostered by the fact that Boulle frequently let Kabila fly in his private jet). April-May 1997. L’odyssée Kabila. the RCD-Goma and MLC rebel organizations have not demonstrated more success in attracting and obtaining foreign investments in the territories under their control. Paris: Khartala. Other South African groups. Adolf Lundin of Canada’s Eurocan had visited Kabila in Goma to discuss investments at Tenke Fungurume in Katanga. May-June 1999. this agreement occurred only one month before the fall of Kinshasa. came in droves.Etoile copper field near Lubumbashi and a joint venture with Union Minière for a waste reprocessing plant at Kolwezi). Not surprisingly.QEH Working Paper Series – QEHWPS95 Page 27 treatment plant in Kolw ezi ($200-$220m). suggesting that there was still an important residual risk in dealing with a future sovereign entity that did not yet control the different interest groups associate with mining and the state. Supporting the War Economy in the DRC: European Companies and the Coltan Trade. as the AFDL began “negotiating the calls for tenders on mining contracts. in exchange for a $15m investment. 13925). 80-81. 75 Since 1998. Earlier in the month. beating the AFDL’s formal control of the state by a few weeks in order to guarantee better access to its market. the Société Aurifère du Kivu et Maniéma (SAKIMA). AMF was dealing with a future sovereign entity. 12905. Antwerp. Whereas no investment deals had been struck between the AFDL and foreign companies since the beginning of the rebellion in August 1996. Banro Resource Corporation signed a mining convention with the Zairean government as late as January 1997. See International Peace Information Service. at a time when most of the east of the country was already firmly beyond the physical reach of the state. the same Eurocan Ventures whose CEO visited Kabila in Goma in April 1997. of which Banro owned 93% and Zaire 7%. 2002. 72 Nor was AMF alone at the time. . a joint venture of Gécamines and Eurocan. The Tenke Mining Corporation. Anglo American (a South African company) also tendered at the beginning of April for two projects with Gécamines (the exploitation of the Ruashi. several months after the beginning of the AFDL rebellion. that the Congolese government rescinded the deal in December 1997.” In addition to AMF. including diamond giant De Beers and Johannesburg Consolidated Investments sent delegations to Lubumbashi in April. and not before both Lubumbashi and Mbuji-Mayi had fallen into AFDL hands. 75 Africa Research Bulletin. the Kabila regime later expropriated Banro and dissolved Sakima. reassured that the AFDL would soon inherit sovereign power. On November 20. a review of all issues of Africa Research 72 Bear in mid. The case was referred in March 1999 to the International Center for the Settlement of Disputed Investments (Africa Research Bulletin. 76 The only dealings between the RCD-Goma and foreign companies (such as Belgium’s Cogecom and Germany’s Masingiro) relate to trading rather than investment contracts. 1996. Yet. 73 Foreign companies were also still dealing with Mobutu up until early 1997.

revealed only one international transaction between the RCD and a foreign company. it was estimated to have grossed some $320m from its operations in Congo. Billy Rautenbach. after rebel leaders Jean-Pierre Bemba and Mbusa Nyamwisi started negotiating with the Kinshasa government for a coalition government. Tokyo: Tokyo University of Foreign Studies. A Report by Global Witness. did not reach fruitful completion. these strategies of “resource colonization” by regional power have not promoted separatist. In the case of Rwanda and Uganda. And. in the east. it represents therefore a case of anticipation of government sovereignty. In 1999. a Zimbabwean. Branching Out: Zimbabwe’s Resource Colonialism in Democratic Republic of Congo. 26 June 2002. 15. Goyvaerts (ed. This announcement occurred. Their common feature. was appointed director of the mining giant Gécamines from 1998 to 1999. Rwanda has been actively exploiting the resources of the provinces formally under the control of RCD-Goma. a Canadian company. 79 Ugandan forces have helped themselves to the resources of eastern Orientale province which has come under the alternating political control of Bemba’s MLC and Mbusa Nyamwisi’s RCDMouvement de Libération. 105-126.QEH Working Paper Series – QEHWPS95 Page 28 Bulletin: Economic. In the Kasaian capital of Mbuji-Mayi. the First International Bank of Grenada (FIBG). “DRC: Oil drilling in east set to start in August. Zimbabwe. Zimbabwean troops until recently physically occupied the alluvial mining grounds of the formally state-controlled diamond company MIBA.and government-controlled territories since 1998. Conflict and Ethnicity in Central Africa. Heritage Oil. announced in June 2002 that it would soon begin drilling in eastern Congo. because sovereignty mitigates some of the risks they face and compares favorably to the uncertainty associated with dealing with warlords. irredentist or other movements of self-determination. as discussed earlier. The reasons for the simultaneous persistence of the Congolese state with its economic dismemberment vary from region to region. In contrast. in territories broadly under Ugandan control. Despite their general disregard for Congo’s integrity and their undermining of its effective sovereignty over its natural resources. the essential feature of their economic exploitation of Congo is its direct nature. however.” Nairobi. The Rwandan Patriotic Army and the Ugandan People Defense Forces 77 78 See IRIN. 79 Final Report of the UN Panel of Experts…. which. Katanga and the Kasais have remained firmly anchored under Congolese government control. however. 2000. In Katanga. 78 More important than private foreign entrepreneurs have been the sovereign foreign investors who have operated in both rebel. from late 1998 to the end of 2001. 80 Despite the reorientation of their economic links with the southern African region.” In D. has established economic control over the Kasai provinces and much of Katanga’s mineral deposit areas. 80 Global Witness. meanwhile. While the informalization of trade and investment relations over the last decade has made it easier for foreign investors to strike individual deals with local strongmen and eschew the state and national regulations. 77 The interests of risk-minimizing foreign investors reinforce the incentives for territorial integrity and those for the preservation of international sovereignty faced by the Congolese. and received the approval of the government. neither Rwanda nor Uganda has tried to parlay its economic exploitation into a reconfiguration of state structures. rather than a pure deal with rebel authorities. . See Jan Gorus. Financial and Technical Series. they have continued to prefer trading and investing with local counterparts who can avail themselves of the mantel of state sovereignty. “Violence in Katanga. Like the AMF deal in 1996. February 2002.. is that the preservation of the state is always an essential component of the profit-maximization strategies of the main protagonists.).

Intervention and Transnationalism in Africa: Global-Local Networks of Power. The economic appetites of Congolese and Zimbabwean political elites account therefore for much of the Congolese institutional rigidity. “How Sovereignty Matters: International Markets and the Political Economy of Local Politics in Weak States. op. under the leadership of former RCD-Goma Commandant Masunzu. it is that their strategies of exploitation are not integrated with those of the occupying forces and are. Kassimir and Latham (eds. for example.” In Callaghy. See Reno 1998:147. in fact.). For the Zimbabweans. the recent Final Report of the UN Panel of Experts… does not single out a single rebel leader in the foreign exploitation of Congo’s natural resources. First. 82 As a result. in contrast to the numerous government figures. 81 82 Stephen Jackson. actually joined resistance movements to the Rwandan occupation in March 2002. Increasingly aware of this. as their direct exploitation benefits from the absence of capable institutions. been manipulated by Rwandan authorities. In the case of Rwanda. This parallels Reno’s argument that warlords avoid building institutions that could take on autonomous interests. it was estimated that two thirds of the output of coltan from the Kivu provinces was directly flown to Rwanda from the digging sites. in contrast to the business informality and criminalization that prevail on the ground. while the RCD-Goma was left to scramble for control and taxing of the remainder of the production. 2001.cit. by and large. 197-215. A weak Congolese state and weak rebel groups. Rather. It is not that rebel strongmen do not exploit their region of political control. Both the Congolese state and the rebel authorities are bypassed in these deals. these rebel movements have not taken on the proto-state characteristics typical of self-determination movements. it provides a seal of legality to their business deals. See also Reno. the unique combination of economic reorientation of the Kivu provinces and of the ethnic similarities between the Congolese rebel leadership and the Kigali ruling elite has not therefore led to the often feared and denounced irredentist scenario. unable to effectively assert their territorial and administrative controls. In fact. For the Congolese elites. . Cambridge: Cambridge Univesity Press. the weak state facilitates the conversion of their formal public functions into private gains. provide optimal conditions for the Rwandan and Ugandan economic strategies. They do. The Congolese Banyamulenge have. residual to the latter. nor have they developed political agendas of state substitution. there has been systematic collaboration with members of the Congolese government in the exploitation of Congo’s natural resources. 81 The direct economic exploitation of Rwanda and Uganda has had two consequences. In the late 1990s.QEH Working Paper Series – QEHWPS95 Page 29 operate directly in Congolese territory and their private partners tend to be Rwandan and Ugandan businesses. Rwanda’s transnational cultural linkages with the Banyarwanda populations of eastern Congo have not resulted in a common economic and political agenda. the direct exploitation of Congo’s eastern region by Rwandans and Ugandans has triggered a nationalist reaction by local populations which has made it all but impossible for any rebel authority to develop a separatist agenda. some of them. These formal “joint ventures” between the Congolese state and Zimbabwean entrepreneurs have put a premium on the reproduction of the weak state in these regions. In the case of the Zimbabwean occupation of the mineral areas of Kasai and Katanga. Second. neither Kigali nor Kampala has wished to encourage the institutional development of their respective Congolese rebel counterparts.

With great irony and a profound understanding of the benefits of sovereingty. in a governmentmandated transfer from Miba. it has entered into several joint ventures with another paragon of state deception. In 2000. Hence.cit. in turn. Zimbabwe extracts in fact a very little price from them for its intervention. the company set up by the Zimbabwean armed forces to represent its commercial operations in Congo is called Operation Sovereign Legitimacy (OSLEG). the biggest ever logging operation in the history of Congo. COSLEG. "Ambitions. was that “Gécamines’ core mineral assets [were] assigned to Rautenbach’s Ridgepointe [company]. Together OSLEG and COMIEX have created a Congolese subsidiary named COSLEG. OSLEG’s operations also benefit COMIEX. Sep-Oct 2001. Since 1998. Comiex-Congo. 83 lesser know until the recent publication of the Final Report of the UN Panel of Experts on the Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources and Other Forms of Wealth of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Profits and Loss: Zimbabwean Economic Involvement in the Democratic Republic of Congo.. is behind SOCEBO. Sengamines was awarded Miba’s alluvial deposits of diamonds at Senga-Senga and its kimberlite mine at Tshibwe. Their joint ventures with Zimbabwe allow them to privately realize gains from their legal control of state assets that they could not otherwise exploit. This is not only true in the case of SOCEBO’s timber business. The economic activities of Zimbabwe and the Zimbabwean armed forces in Congo are generally run as joint ventures with Congolese government elites. 85 It is the very weakness of the state that made it vulnerable to foreign aggression by Rwanda and Uganda and justified Zimbabwean intervention. On the contrary. The agreement with Zimbabwe’s Rautenbachfor example. does not have any incentive to promote the rise or regional identities in support of its economic network in southern Congo. 87 It was apparently because the Congolese government was not getting as much as it hoped from its deal with Zimbabwe that 83 Michael Nest. were the advantages that the Congolese government and elites derived from it. but also applies to Sengamines. 86 More often than not." African Affairs. It is its very sovereignty that allows for this conversion of defense policy into private profit. Congolese elites have the upper hand in these business deals. 14192. 85 See also Final Report of the UN Panel of Experts… 86 Africa Research Bulletin (Economic Series). another joint venture between OSLEG and COMIEX. while the Congolese convert their official functions into rental havens. The Congolese political elite could not indeed set up investment operations of a sufficient scale on their own to exploit many of the natural resources of Katanga or Kasai. aside from the defense of the country’s territorial integrity. The Zimbabweans benefit from the legal status of their official state partners. 2001. Dec 1999-Jan 2000. particularly. 14928. Zimbabwe’s military intervention in defense of the the Congolese state has generated opportunities for Congolese and Zimbabwean elites to convert state control and state assets into private profiteering opportunities. a firm partly owned by the family of Joseph Kabila and set up by his father. 84 In other words. Both groups benefit therefore from the maintenance of the state. 84 See Global Witness. . 100. it finds more merit in dealing with a sovereign state. op. and Zimbabwe. in which Congolese officials have an equity stake” (emphasis mine). 87 Africa Research Bulletin (economic Series) . which was granted an 85m-acre concession by the Congolese government in August 2001.QEH Working Paper Series – QEHWPS95 Page 30 While the economic interests of the Zimbabwean regime in intervening in the DRC are now well known. and extract immediate resources from the Zimbabweans. The Congolese are not helpless exploited victims in this arrangement.

For those who remained on the outside during the entire Mobutu years. young future elites educated in Western universities and awaiting propitious conditions for their return. According to Africa Research Bulletin. foreign investors and regional powers. the appointment of Rautenbach was supposed to benefit Zimbabwe. it is neither politically unified. 1960-1990.” While the rules of the post-cold-war era in Africa have facilitated the violation of boundaries. Mobutu or Chaos? The Unted States and Zaire. 89 See the chapters by Venugopal on Sri Lanka and Reno on Somalia in this volume. Janet McGaffey and Rémy Bazenguissa-Ganga have suggested. In short. After the UN system. spread and consolidation of sub-national identities and selfdetermination movements in Congo. 1991. For sure. According to Michael Schatzberg. broad coalitions of exiles spend as much time squabbling with each other as they do opposing Mobutu. nor does it represent one region or ethnic group more than another. Md: University Press of America.54. But there still remained a substantial part of revenues that was supposed to accrue to the Congolese government. . for it is not the result of people seeking refuge from conflict or group persecution.QEH Working Paper Series – QEHWPS95 Page 31 Billy Rautenbach got sacked from running Gécamines in November 1999 after having been appointed in November 1998. a once sacro-sanct principle of inter-state relations in Africa. Rwandan and Zimbabwean interventions in Congo demonstrate indeed the extent to which the violation of the state’s territorial integrity combines with the preservation of its sovereign shell to generate unusually profitable conditions for both invading and invaded political elites.] Living for the most part in Brussels and Paris. the existence of a Congolese diaspora could also constitute a potentially important factor in affecting the formation. the arrival of Kabila’s regime in 1997 represented a new opportunity to join the state. in their study of these international trader 88 Michael Schatberg. For a while. Lanham. Congolese “external opposition is insignificant […. or traders.”88 The same is very much true today vis-à-vis the Kabila regime. Rautenbach was let go because Congolese “ministers criticize[d] Rautenbach’s management of state-owned Gécamines for not generating enough revenue for the government. aid donors. Much of the AFDL leadership and subsequent Kabila governments were indeed composed of Congoese from abroad. the devotion to the Congolese state applies to the diaspora s much as to those who have remained in Congo. As for the latter. The cases of Ugandan. The Congolese diapora has also been formally represented in the Inter-Congolese Dialogue that has been going on (and off) since 1999. 89 The Congolese diaspora also differs from these two other cases by its origins. p. they have not promoted a redefinition of nation-states. the Kasai regions were probably more represented in the diaspora. under Mobutu. Although the Congolese diaspora in Belgium and France has a relatively high cultural profile. but their nationalist profile (due to the penetration of Kasaian educated elites in most other regions. This is not the case in Congo. This is considerably different from cases like Sri Lanka or Somalia where ethnically homogeneous diasporae have maintained the spirit of regional self-determination movements alive and financed their war efforts. The former two have a vested interest in maintaining the state. The neo-patrimonial logic of rule also made many of them await their turn to integrate or re-integrate the state system. not least because diasporae often serve as both cultural and financial vectors for local identities. however. writing in 1990. both directly and through the percentage of the government share that was earmarked for reimbursement of military spending and loans by Zimbabwe. a consequence of colonial policy) restrained them from articulating self-determination agendas. Rather it consists of political opponents.

to guard diamond mines. the other with a Western diplomat in Kinshasa. The Tigres of the Front National de Libération du Congo (FNLC) are the descendants to the Katanga Gendarmes. . these traders directly benefit from the weak state too. 92 Because of Angola’s support for the current Congolese regime and the end of its own civil war in 2002. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. they began serving as a paramilitary force for the ruling MPLA and contributed to repelling the Zairean-FNLA invasion of July 1975. They contributed to the AFDL war in 1996 but were apparently disenchanted by the nature of their integration in the Congolese army and Rwandan control over the armed activities. Zambia and Katanga. Angola has apparently put pressure on the Congolese authorities for granting them land and decent pay (they reportedly make $200 a month in Angola. The MPLA used them thereafter to protect its borders from UNITA incursions. Many came back to serve in the national army of Congo in 1964-65. remittances from Congolese abroad have in fact alleviated poverty in Congo and facilitated local entrepreneurial activity. 92 Most of the information on the Tigres is from two interviews. the Tigres’ own political agenda no longer involves a particular political project besides rejoining the fold of the state on acceptable terms. In fact. According to a study by Claude Sumata. “Migradollars and Poverty Alleviation Strategy issues in Congo (DRC). They are currently estimated to number between 5. Symptomatically of the Congolese political system. their main political leaders. After their defeat by UN forces in 1963. When Angola became independent in 1975. but his waning political fortunes later led to their repression and they again sought the path of exile.”90 Yet. including Nathan Mbumba who was in charge of their invasions of Shaba in 1977 and 1978.QEH Working Paper Series – QEHWPS95 Page 32 communities.000 and 7. organized along ethnic lines and displaying historical grievances vis-à-vis the state. if any. September 2002.” Review of African Political Economy. when Moïse Tshombé was prime minister.000. both of which took place in April 2002. Special Issue: Democratic Republic of Congo. forthcoming. 91 Claude Sumata. Both government have been discussing a possible reintegration of the Tigres into Congo’s army. is the Katanga Tigres and the related structures of political authority among the Lunda of Angola. that these people have created ‘a world of their own in which they reject both legal economic activity and the value system of society in which they carry out their extra. and their current secretary. and in special operations such as the war in Congo Brazzaville in 1997. which compares with about $10 a month for Congolese troops). despite their numerous years in exile and their nature as an armed Lunda diaspora.general Henri Muka Tshung. the question of the status of the Tigres has taken on a new salience recently. But they appear to have no other political ambitions and to no longer conceive of their self-determination away from the state. 91 The only significant potential diasporic opposition. the Katanga Gendarmes. a sort of Légion étrangère out of special extra-budgetary accounts. the troops that fought for the secession of the province from 1960 to 1963. fled to the Lunda provinces of Angola. and made once again the trek back to Angola. by and large contribution to a reduction in economic grievances against the state and providing the latter with an additional safety valve. maintaining them as a quasi mercenary force. as it allows them to bypass controls and regulations. Congo-Paris.10. is therefore essentially passive and does not constitute the foundation of an alternative identity. live 90 Janet McGaffey and Rémy Bazenguissa-Ganga. 199_. p. mainly composed of ethnic Lundas. Nor do remittances from Congolese abroad seem to support the political mobilization of any specific group in Congo. one with a visiting Western scholar in Katanga. Their resistance to the state.

irrespective of their past issues of cultural specificity. and their attendant nationalist expressions. Hence. the Mwaant Yaav. does not quite apply in Congo. The popular “flow and closure” argument. At any rate. how does Congo’s cultural diversity express itself? Where do sub. as opposed to separatism. that leads to the perpetuation and magnification of parochial identities. as a result of the development of the centralized state as the most profitable avenue to resources. remains the most important cultural flow in shaping the contours of struggles of self-determination in Congo. This also explains why the reinsertion of the Tigres is such a crucial question for the government at this stage as they could revert to violence to negotiate a better deal for themselves if current talks fail. Globalization and Identity: Dialectics of Flow and Closure.national identities find cultural and political outlets? 5. The findings from this section suggest that global cultural and economic influences have failed to affect the benefits of sovereignty and the subsequent nationalist calculus of Congolese elites. currently as a member of parliament. according to which the uncertainties of globalized flows lead to the reinforcement of local identities as closure mechanisms. Nationalism dialectically generates ethnicity. and grossly malevolent as Congo does not generate credible self-determination movements but produces instead an apparently irrational nationalist fervor. But then. The global norm that whatever political authority inherits the postcolonial African state is automatically imbued with international sovereignty. For the Congolese. differentiation and polarization. the paradox that a state as culturally heterogeneous. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers. rather than its dilution through global informal markets. whereas secessionist governments are not. it is the incentive for the maintenance of the Congolese state. 1999. follows the same logic of exchanging local power (based on tradition rather than force in this case) for access to a parcel of state resources. It represents an attempt to reconcile the existence of Congo with 93 Although De Boek identifies such an effect among the diamond-trading Lunda astride Congo and Angola. They are trying to parlay their military leverage into access to the state. 93 On the contrary. . in Birgit Meyer and Peter Geschiere (eds. if they wish to maximize power and resources. the irony of Congolese nationalism and of its anti-partition discourse is that they set the stage and provide the mechanism for the private dismemberment of Congo’s assets. who has declared his ambitions for the presidency. the demand for federalism is an expression of identity differences that remains within the realm of the politically feasible. Why Ethnic Salience Does not Translate in Ethnic Self-Determination Strategies of state-as-resource. resource-rich. making him likely to seek an alliance with the Tigres to pursue his goal militarily. It is the only reasonable option available to these political actors. a Katangan businessman of mixed Congolese and Greek descent.QEH Working Paper Series – QEHWPS95 Page 33 in Kinshasa. preclude the voicing of local cultural identities.). which are then left to find outlets in demands for federalism and in “tribal” clientelism. the contemporary behavior of groups that should be most associated with the separatist idea illustrates the rationality of the nationalist preference for power and resource maximizers. As the previus evidence suggests. They are rumored indeed to have been approached by Katebe Katoto. whether instrumental or intrinsic. but who will most likely find his mixed racial background to be an obstacle to his political aspirations. with the past and present regimes (both of which have repressed Lunda political aspirations). Congo is maintained so that it can be emptied of its substance. The collaboration of the Lunda emperor.

Since the beginning of the latest war. The elusiveness of the federal option has stifled the expression of local identities and relegated them to parallel social networks which the nationalist discourse stigmatizes as “tribalistic” and which. then. Popular attitudes adjust to these realities of power. once in power. politicians typically repress such aspirations in order to avoid any dilution of their authority and the rise of independent sources of institutional power. December 2000 and January 2002. they voice their desire for federalism. federalism is usually popular with public opinion and with opposition politicians (who perceive it as an opportunity to play a local power card without threatening the overall system and losing the benefits associated with sovereignty). “Quand on va manger à Kinshasa. The 1992 Sovereign National Conference also overwhelmingly approved federalism for Congo. Yet.” as the expression goes. fail to translate their aspirations into a self-determination project. Such strategies imply eithe r a dynamic process of identity differentiation as justification for claims to participate in the system. however. As a Katangan informant put it. 95 The politically acceptable discourse now. BERCI reports. Note. and Kabila in 1997 all proceeded from the same logic of power and tried to put an end to democratic expressions of cultural differences in Congo. that federalist sentiments remain stronger outside Kinshasa and amounted to 73% in Mbuji-Mayi and 53% in Lubumbashi in May 1998. every time the Congolese have an opportunity to express themselves in relatively non-threatening environments. This was the case at the Table-Ronde in Brussels in 1960. in 1998. As such. even among opponents and members of civil society. despite Kabila being Katangan. which created 22 quasi. to 33% in December 2000. or for a “unitary but strongly decentralized system. who originate in Angola.QEH Working Paper Series – QEHWPS95 Page 34 aspirations for emancipation from its domination. April 2002. spread through the south-western region of Katanga in the 18th century and eventually became geographically and culturally close 94 95 “When you go eat in Kinshasa. As a consequence. It happened again in 1964 with the never.implemented Luluabourg Constitution. The Chokwe. The Antananarivo Conference of March 1961 resulted in a proposal for a loose confederation in which each province was largely autonomous but under one foreign policy. and 23% in January 2002.federated provinces. successive Congolese governments have also successfully associated demands for federalism with separatist agendas. usually with the support of western donors. Lubumbashi.federalist attitudes are the default among the Congolese. c'est fini. with the consequence that outspoken federalists--as the RCD-Goma and its feared “provincial assemblies”---are now labeled antiCongo. Whereas pro. while serving the interests of their members. though colonial influence managed to maintain a dose of unitarism in the system. . these preferences are usually toned down when central authority is effective or at least able to marginalize any federalist discourse. Indeed. May 1998. the very centralization of the nationalist state triggers local dynamics of ethnic differentiation and polarization that lead to ever narrower definitions of identity."94 Lumumba in 1960.” Anonymous interview (02/9). however. Paradoxically. calls for federalism after the hypothetical transition from the current regime to a reunified Congo with a democratically elected government. or a process of polarization of local groups as they compete for state-controlled resources. pro-federalist sentiments in Kinshasa’s public opinion polls have fallen from 41% in May 1998. it’s over. converting them instead into parochial strategies of access to state power and resources. There are no more recent data outside of Kinshasa. Mobutu in 1965. The Chokwe of Katanga illustrate the logic of ethnic differentiation. and instead impose unitary structures.

May 1999. the former director of Katanga’s central prison under Moise Tshombe. Lubumbashi. claim to have traditional authority over the Chokwe. The Mutuelle brings us all together now in mutual solidarity [entraide]. Unpublished Manuscript. It negotiates and lobbies for their participation in the system. a grouping of mutuelles from the province. 98 Chokwe Mutuelle. Westport. Either way. April 2002.96 Yet. Rather. people fall back on tribal associations. 99 Chokwe Mutuelle. The Fondation is a reconciliation institution.] It also intervenes for pressuring authorities into appointing our members. and defense of our interests. it equally makes sense to reinforce their groups’ cultural difference so as to seize control of their own representation and bypass the local mediation of the Lunda in their access to state resources. 97 Interview with Mwaant Yaav. the Alliance des Tshokwé du Congo. the Chokwe have continued their policy of self-dissociation from the Lunda while the latter. who benefit from greater recognition and whose emperor is a member of parliament. For Chokwe elites. sidelined by current power configurations. 99 96 James S. two managers at Gécamines.QEH Working Paper Series – QEHWPS95 Page 35 to the Lunda with whom they have considerable spatial overlap and similar interests. and a former secretary of the Ministry of Interior under Mobutu. Its leadership is composed of a lecturer at the University of Lubumbashi. . the Chokwe are organized in a mutual welfare society. Lubumbashi. The Mutuelle is a member of the Fondation Katangaise. while some Chokwe participated with the Lunda in CONAKAT in the 1960s. Group interview in Lubumbashi. they are relative outcasts of the system. The current socio-political organization of the Chokwe in Katanga reflects this strategy of ethnic differentiation as a clientelistic organizational principle for access to networks of power and resources. 98 In other words. The Mutuelle is their organizational response to this loss. the Mutuelle Culturelle Kulivwa. suffering from a loss of political access. 1996. which helps mediate between different associations […. Angola et Rhodésie. As its leadership affirms. a lawyer and former minister of Mines under Mobutu currently setting up a new political party. April 2002 (verify). and it is based on ethnic solidarity and on the reinforcement of the projection of their cultural identity. given the weakness of the state. Olson. April 2002. or economic elites suffering from the marginalization of Katanga’s main parastatals. to claim representation of the Chokwe so as to increase their demographic weight and consequent demands on state resources. most of them chose to stay away from the Lunda-dominated party and instead marked their difference by joining the nationalist Balubakat-dominated Cartel Katangais as part of ATCAR. who have some limited access to power. but does not challenge it. on the other hand. and Chokwe chiefs are not represented in its structures. This organization is essentially clientelistic as the Mutuelle structures its members’ access to state resource as a group. these are either former political elites. This association is not to be confused with a traditional organization. mostly in the form of differentiation from the Lunda. cultural preservation. Histoire du peuple tshokwe. Although both the Lunda and the Chokwe are now politically marginalized and suffer from the hegemony of the Balubakat in Katanga. 97 It makes sense for the Lunda. Ct: Greenwood Press. Jean-Félix Kakwata Mwalukesa. it is a cultural association of modern elites. Group interview in Lubumbashi. a lobbying organization for the betterment of mostly urbanized and educated individuals sharing Chokwe cultural identity. The Peoples of Africa: An Ethnohistorical Dictionnary. a retired civil servant. Like many other Congolese groups.

Kulivwa does not stand in opposition to the state as an organization of alternative action. “Patterns of State Collapse and Reconstruction in Central Africa: Reflections on the Crisis in the Great Lakes Region. mutuelles are the expressions of the clientelistic dimension of tribalisme. Jean- . Chokwe Mutuelle. chiefly among which is public employment. It does not promote the political expression of Chokwe identity as a matter of cultural self-determination. in 1885. Rather than affirming their existence as a group vis-à-vis the state. ethnic identities lead to more violent polarization.” complain the members of Kulivwa. a reinvention and imagination of Chokwe identity in today’s Congo. Isonga-Songa does not challenge the rule of the RCD-Goma in Kisangani. Yet. For the Chokwe. “Our history is always drowned in that of the Lunda. cit. November 2001. the main competitor are the Lunda. its institutionalized façade. Across Congo. Mahmood Mamdani.QEH Working Paper Series – QEHWPS95 Page 36 Mediation is necessary among the Mutuelles to the extent that they compete for the same state-sponsored resources. April 2002.” Afrika Spectrum. It also offers a chronology of the Chokwe chiefs and attempts to belittle the reach of Lunda authority by arguing that Angola’s Lunda are in fact a different group (another instance of selfdifferentiation as the Chokwe themselves originated in Angola). 100 The book and the museum project are part of an effort of cultural preservation. 103 The questions to be addressed here are the 100 101 Kakwata Mwalukesa. as in the Kivu regions where demographic pressures were compounded by refugee flows from Rwanda in the 1990s. 103 On the identity question in Eastern Congo (which is linked to the Great Lakes conflicts). they see the rebels as their pathway to the spoils of power and simply ask to be taken into account: "We are a force capable of giving a foundation to the RCD. On the contrary. particularly critical in this agricultural region. Rapid population growth led to difficult issues of land allocation. see. René Lemarchand. The Chokwe are but one example of this phenomenon. 1997. This competition leads to increased cultural differentiation among these groups and undermines national and provincial identities. they even captured the Mwaant Yav's capital city. Chair of Isonga-Songa Mutuelle. Princeton. Kulivwa has sponsored the writing of a book on the history of the Chokwe people and is planning a Chokwe museum. Op. According to Maurice Etukomalu. Kisangani. among others. As part of this strategy of cultural differentiation. “Any politician who wants a solid foundation has to go through us.” Just as Kulivwa is complacent vis-à-vis the state. 32(2). chair of the Topoke’s Isonga-Songa Mutuelle in Orientale Province. “The way history was written before is like a type of repression. On the contrary. Group interview in Lubumbashi. The writing of its history by the Chokwe is an exercise in denying this assimilation. which are often believed to be an umbrella group exerting authority over them. The identity problem in Eastern Congo has already been well researched."102 In other instances. however. Tribalism and the state are thus reproduced at the same time. This is usually the case when scarcities are more pronounced. NJ: Princeton University Press. they do so vis-àvis other local groups in order to single out the merits of their claims to association with the state.”101 The book stresses that the Chokwe are not under the authority of the Lunda’s Mwaant Yav and recounts how. 173-193. as they offer their support to politicians in exchange for the redistribution of state resources to their members. as would a self-determination movement. 102 Interview with Maurice Etukomalu. 2001. This pattern of cultural self-affirmation aimed at other groups rather than at the state simultaneously reinforces the continued existence of the weak state and promotes parochial polarization. its members all individually operate in the margins of state power. When Victims Become Killers.

2000. political violence in the Kivus is at least partly about access to state power. a new law stripped all Banyarwanda of their citizenship. and B. the appeal of the state remains the prevalent motivation. leaving the second group as foreigners. There are essentially two types of Banyarwanda in the Kivus. Power and Ethnic conflict in Masisi. ethnic-based mobilization increased in the Kivus in the early 1990s. and less about cultural self-determination than may appear at first. Brussels” VUB University Presss. 1940s-1994. The situation at the beginning of the 1990s was thus characterized by a fragilization of the status of the Banyarwanda in Eastern Congo. The long-term Banyarwanda of the Kivus. Transnational linkages and cultural similarities do not translate into irredentism or other forms of attempts at self-determination for the Congolese Tutsi. One group is constituted of the descendants of individuals---both Hutus and Tutsis---who migrated and settled there before or during Belgian colonization. were left vulnerable as outsiders to the Congolese political system. 104 Banyarwanda refers to people of Rwandan descent. and particularly from Congo’s relations with Rwanda and Uganda. 30:503-537. Banyamulenge is a subset of the Banyarwanda from the earlier waves of immigration. The Banyamulenge are composed mostly of Tutsi.” International Journal of African Historical Studies.QEH Working Paper Series – QEHWPS95 Page 37 relationship between the reproduction of the national state and ethnic violence in the Kivus and the degree to which this ethnic violence can be associated with attempts at political self-determination. apparently as a consequence of the declining influence of the Banyamulenge in the Mobutu administration. . A 1972 law conferred Congolese citizenship to Banyarwanda who had been in Congo since 1950. hence. A second group is composed mostly of the Tutsi (and their children) who escaped the Hutu revolution in Rwanda in 1959. Although identity relations in Eastern Congo are very complex and cannot be collapsed into a single explanatory framework. a demotion among Congolese society characterized by their exclusion from the state system. Nyanga) against Banyarwanda “outsiders. In 1981. Paris : L’Harmattan. Mararo. With the approaching possibility of elections---and. 104 This law was confirmed in the early 1990s by the transition parliament appointed by the National Sovereign Conference. Banyarwanda et Banyamulenge: Violences ethniques et gestion de l’identitaire au Kivu. Ruddy Doom and Jan Gorus (eds). “Land. Nande. the Banyamulenge’s own agenda remains overwhelmingly domestic and parallels but does not equate the struggle of the Rwandan Tutsi against the remnants of the Hutu-based Habyarimana regime. many among the last wave of Tutsi immigrants had returned to Rwanda or Uganda to join the Rwandan Patriotic Front in its civil war against the Habyarimana regime. While the Congolese authorities’ attitude towards the Banyamulenge derive in large part from regional politics.” Violence flared up in the Walikale and Masisi regions of North Kivu in 1992 and 1993 and partly represented an attempt by these “autochthonous” groups to further marginalize the Banyarwanda (already deprived of access to the state by their loss of citizenship) and eliminate them as a Claude Willame. somehow solving their own citizenship problem. The Congolese Tutsi known as the Banyamulenge are fighting for their reinsertion into the Congolese political system. mainly along the axis of “autochthonous” populations (such as the Hunde. 1997. and who settled in the South Kivu region of Mulenge. however. focusing their struggle on the question of citizenship and linking local violence with moments of power redistribution in Kinshasa. 1997. Rather. Earlier in the decade. Politics of Identity and Economic Conlict in the Great Lakes Region. of redistribution of access to state power---. from which they were originally outcast under the Mobutu regime. however.

rejoin the fold of the state and improve their local status. Bivigeti. established some form of anti-Banyamulenge alliance based on their common hatred of that group. Kabila. Op. whose implicit purpose is the recognition of the Congolese Tutsi as a bona fide local community. the decision by the Banyamulenge to resort to arms in 1996 was directed first and foremost against the attempts by local Congolese. which was made possible---if not encouraged---by the decay of the state security apparatus at the time. while ubiquitous scarecrows in Kivu’s political discourse. to equate the intentions of the Congolese Tutsi with those of the Rwandan regime. they have used a mix of domination of local autochthonous populations and re-appropriation of land assets. Meanwhile. They have since pursued their reinsertion by first trying to seize military control of Kinshasa and. however. This once again created a congruence of interests between the Congolese Tutsi and the Kigali regime against the government in Kinshasa and led to the second Congolese war that began in August 1998 and is still unfolding. however. he ordered the withdrawal from the country of the Rwandan and Ugandan forces which had helped him seize power and set up a military alliance with Rwandan Hutu militiamen and former armed forces. failed to yield significant successes so far. embarked in the war in order to resist persecution. when this failed. 106 Right before the 1996 war began. head of Kivu’s Commission de Pacification. and to install a government in Kinshasa that would solve their citizenship problem.QEH Working Paper Series – QEHWPS95 Page 38 contender for land resources. killing and looting” the Banyarwanda. 107 Denis Tull. although both found merits in resorting to violence in the Kivu provinces at around the same time in 1996.Banyarwanda conflict into a tryadic relationship in which Hutu refugees coalesced with local Hutu populations against both autochthonous and Tutsi. The Inter-Congolese Dialogue has so far left the RCD-Goma out of the government spoils. It also dragged the Tutsi-dominated Rwandan government into Kivu politics and created a de facto alliance between this government and the Congolese Tutsi against the Hutu refugee populations. Yet. the continuation of violence in the Kivus. In July 1998. not Hutu refugees. 108 Interview with A. The relative prosperity of the land-owning Banyarwanda and their outnumbering of autochthonous populations in parts of North Kivu (Masisi and Rutshuru) lied behind the violence. were not on the agenda of the Congolese Banyarwanda. 28. 105 The influx of Hutu refugees from Rwanda in 1994 transformed the dyadic “autochthonous”. “Heavily armed ex-soldiers” were reported to organize “tribal groups” which moved “from village to village. As before. To improve their local conditions. Goma. the Banyarwanda. cit. Yet. the then deputy-governor of South Kivu had asked all Banyamulenge to leave the country "within six days of be attacked and killed. November 2001. what the Banyamulenge wanted was to re-establish by force their local economic rights.”107 One would be mistaken. wrestled the leadership of the AFDL from the Banyamulenge and failed to grant them their citizenship demands. 6. Rwandan Hutu refugees and Kivu “autochthonous” groups had. therefore. principally by the Mai Mai 105 106 See Economist Intelligence Unit. however. to dispossess them. 108 Both strategies have. eager to boost his fledgling political support at home. The organization of an “Inter-Kivutien dialogue” and the takeover of the so-called Barza intercommunity councils by the RCD have followed this logic. “The Dynamics …”. 26. together with a policy of “reconciliation” and “dialogue” among the different communities of Kivu. under the Lusaka Agreement framework. and 4th quarter 1993. 3rd quarter 1993. . by entering in political negotiations with the government.. acting through the RCD-Goma. Irredentism with Rwanda or the creation of a “Tutsiland” in the Kivus. 2001. a Mulubakat.

QEH Working Paper Series – QEHWPS95 Page 39 who. ethnic politics in Congo has remained a struggle for access to the resources of power.” has not resulted in a will to escape the system but rather in repeated desperate attempts to rejoin it. which contributes to steering the Banyamulenge away from separatist and irredentist agendas. . as a parochial reaction to global standardization. 109 See the chapter by Frances Stewart for a discussion of horizontal inequality and its expected effects on violent self-determination attempts. they have led to an increasingly narrow definition of political identities. but has rarely conferred the fundamental motivation for political emancipation from the state. a blatant case of “horizontal inequality. particularly as they have led to the polarization of Hutu and Tutsi communities among the Banyarwanda. whose aim was to force the reintegration of Banyamulenge in the Congolese political system. instead. The vagaries of the RCD-Goma illustrate how. reveals the extent of the RCD’s political failure on both fronts. cit. 109 “Transnational spaces” with Rwanda and the overflow of the latter’s ethnic conflict into Congo have created a temporary congruence of objectives but not a common identity between Rwandan and Congolese Tutsis. betrays the enduring lack of integration and acceptance of the Banyarwanda among other Congolese in the Kivus. The alliance of the RCD with Rwanda. its forcible implementation of pro-Tutsi policies in the East and its failure to quash local violence and to seize power in Kinshasa have further increased identity polarization in the region and made the Banyamulenge more vulnerable to violence by other groups than at any other time. For sure. 6. Congo betrays expectations that link the rise of local identity politics to globalization. The insurgency against the RCD of a dissident Banyamulenge group in South Kivu since March 2002. The weakening of the Congolese state in the 1990s and the continued denial of the federalist option by the Congolese ruling elites created the conditions for a rise in both the clientelistic and violent expressions of ethnic competition. Is Congo Different? The logic of the sovereign state as private resource triggers paradoxical outcomes in Congo. Identity has been instrumental in fighting for state resources. rather than to the transnational aggregation of identities in a challenge to the established order. has become a liability to the Banyamulenge. is that there are alternative coalitions of global forces and domestic factors which promote national identities and repress local ones. the patrimonial logic of state access remains a crucial determinant of political behavior. Commandant Masunzu. following its failure to reach power and its deep unpopularity in the Kivus. represent anti-Tutsi autochthonous groups. 110 Meyer and Geschiere. even in the intense. The Masunzu rebellion illustrates the eagerness of some local Banyamulenge to dissociate themselves from the RCD-Goma. and an increasingly complex pattern of political violence in the region. Op. an expression of the need for local closure in the face of globalized flows. under the leadership of a former RPF and RCD officer. by and large. Ironically. 110 What Congo suggests. painfully loaded context of identity conflicts in Eastern Congo. Despite the weakness of the state. The dispossession by the Congolese state of their status as participants in its system. political dynamics in Rwanda have changed political dynamics in Kivu. Congo would have been expected to fall apart in the era of globalized economic and cultural flows. however. Yet. In light of its institutional weakness and its social heteroge neity. the RCD movement.

and dwarfs the relative returns of alternatives to the state. resulted in self-determination movements. DC: Woordrow Wilson Center Press. the Congolese model. the status of minority is rarely lived as one of domination at the hands of someone else’s state. pitting instead factions for control of the state. compared to those of post-Soviet Eurasia.national identities and provide the means for their local political expression (as is the case with Somaliland. may well provide the blueprint of the stifling of self-determination in Africa. the state is neutrally defined as postcolonial territory and is up for grabs by any group capable of doing so. 112 This will affect not so much the intensity fo the local grievances but the likelihood fo success. . 479. Washington. Somaliland.). 111 Mark Beissinger and Crawford Young. African conflicts are generally much more about control of the state than about territorial control. Southern Sudan. then. Barotseland secessionists in Zambia. 112 where there are reinforcing cleavages that magnify grievances and truly create a sense of minority at risk (as is the case in Southern Sudan where race.activities. or Casamance separatists in Senegal no longer truly harbor ambitions of breaking away from the state but maintain this discourse as part of their strategies of renegotiating their allegiance to the state or as the justifying discourse of mostly criminal---and no longer political--. for all its paradoxical idiosyncracies. since the case of past sovereignty can be made. and will lower therefore the threshold of violent political action. by Casamance rebels and by Katanga secessionists. Neither the Liberian nor the Sierra Leonean wars. “The Effective State in Postcolonial africa and Post-Soviet Eurasia: Hopeless Chinera or Possible Dream?” in Beissinger and Young (eds.QEH Working Paper Series – QEHWPS95 Page 40 How different is Congo. 2002. or where culturally specific diasporas reproduce and crystallize sub. several belong to the realm of posturing more than to that of actual challenge of the state. This is not necessarity true in more industrial countries where competing sources of revenues exist for the leaders of potential self-determination movements. Furthermore. Most cases of political violence in Africa are therefore by and large consistent with the Congolese story. and can anything be learned from it with comparative relevance? While possibly more extreme in its deviances. for example. Young and Beissinger have highlighted that. the sheer poverty of Africa makes state sovereignty one of the prime resources everywhere. They muse for the whole continent when they notice that “Particularly striking in the large zones of disorder in contemporary Africa is the relative absence of ethnic self-determination. In other circumsntances.”111 There are two prima facie explanations for this. First. deriving instead their national identity from territorially defined states. As a result. Rather. Second. few African states are based on ethnonational project. religion and resource distribution overlap). for example. but without success. The only clear-cut cases of self-determination in Sub-Saharan Africa are a handful: Eritrea. or Sri Lank outside of Africa). Congo is not as different from other African states as it may seem. which may affect their cost-benefit analysis of rebellion. as suggested by Beissinger and Young. among he few actual contemporary cases of slef-proclained selfdetermination movements. They suggest that challenges to the postcolonial African social contract may take place either when there is a historical claim for separate colonial existence (as in Eritrea or Somaliland). Beyond State Crisis: Postcolonial Africa and Post-Soviet Eurasia in Comparative perspective. ceteris paribus. The colonial distinctiveness argument has also been used.